On February 17th, 2001, the Manic Street Preachers played their first gig of their new tour in the Karl Marx theatre, Havana, Cuba. In doing so they became the first western artists to do so in over 20 years, the last being, of all people, Billy Joel. The 5,000 strong audience, which included Fidel Castro, paid a mere 25 pesos per ticket, or 17p sterling. The band played a stormer, in which even Castro rose to his feet (as part of a standing ovation for a new song - "Baby Elian"). It was such a historic moment for both crowd and band that they broke a tradition that they had held since the late 80s, and played an encore.

For the band it was a chance to take a stand against commercialism:

"Cuba is an example that everything doesn't have to be Americanised," said the lead singer, James Dean Bradfield. Guitarist Nicky Wire insisted the visit was "not like a student Che Guevara sort of thing - it's just that Cuba for me is the last great symbol that really fights against the Americanisation of the world." - The Guardian
When asked if the concert would impact sales in America, Nicky wire smiled and said, "I hope so".

Before the concert, Castro came back stage to have a chat with the band, an experience they described as "the greatest honour of their lives". Rumour has it that before the show, James Dean Bradfield warned Castro that it might get quite loud. Castro smiled and replied, "not as loud as war".


The rather rare Manic Street Preachers ENCORES

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