I am pretty certain that I’ve only ever been to one gig on New Years Eve but the one I did go to was rather special. On Friday 31st December 1999 a group of us travelled from Nottingham to Cardiff to witness what was billed at the time as “the world’s biggest indoor music event” – the Manic Street Preachers playing to over 60,000 fans at the brand new Millennium Stadium. What an incredible night that was!
At the time I worked in IT so had spent the previous 12 months, like most other ‘techies’ preparing for the year 2000 amid concerns around the ‘Y2K bug’ and what impact this might have on computer systems around the world. Would our office systems crash at midnight? Would security systems breakdown and lawlessness ensue? Would planes fall out of the sky?! In the end we needn’t have worried – there was no apocalypse and to be perfectly honest I wouldn’t have noticed anyway since I was having such a great time having got smashed at our hotel bar before the gig (I put it down to nerves!)
The Welsh capital was buzzing with anticipation when we arrived that afternoon. Our ‘digs’ overlooked the stadium from the opposite bank of the river Taff and, by the early evening it looked magnificent in the early evening sky as the vast army of fans started to gather. The stadium had only been open for 6 months at the time and this would be its first live concert. It was quite fitting that local heroes the Manics would headline the event – “the biggest gig of their lives” – and the closing of the retractable roof to make this an INDOOR gig would only add to the incredible atmosphere and sense of occasion.
The supporting cast that night included great sets from Feeder and the Super Furry Animals – two other great Welsh bands who were part of the ‘Cool Cymru’ movement that had emerged with Britpop in the mid-90s. Liverpool band Shack opened the show but I don’t recall seeing them, possibly because we were still emptying the hotel bar of its contents!
By the time the Manics came on stage that night the atmosphere in the stadium was electric and the band put on a truly passionate and heartfelt 2 and a half hour show for their adoring home crowd. There was a break at midnight while Millennium celebrations from around the world were projected on to the big screens before singer James Dean Bradfield came out to do a short acoustic set. When the full band returned for Part 2 the show was beamed live to an estimated 2 billion TV viewers around the world. The Manics closed their set with ‘A design for life’ – a true anthem for the times – and we all filtered out of the stadium in the early hours of the 1st January 2000 to resume our lives in the 21st Century. It all felt quite exciting at the time and if you look back now a lot HAS changed for the good in the 21 years that have followed (imagine a life with dial up internet for example!)
This is up there as one of the best live music experiences of my lifetime.
Here’s what others said about the Manic Millennium:
Watch the full concert here:
Loved the 90s?
See more of my ticket stubs here