‘Death Of A Polaroid’ launched at Waterstones Cardiff

Waterstones, The Hayes, Cardiff. The scene for the launch of the first of two books by Manic Street Preachers bass player and mouthpiece, Nicky Wire.

It’s strikingly appropriate that an event steeped in as much history as this should be staged in the heart of the Hayes, a district of Cardiff which more than any other shaped the Manics. Spending their formative years performing in the arcades and alleyways surrounding Waterstones before using their hard earned busking money to purchase the latest vinyl delights in Spillers.

The queue snakes around the perimeter of the store, a mixture of hardcore Manics devotees decked out in Wiresque outfits and the more casual ‘Radio 2’ fans hoping to finally get a glimpse of Nicky up close. The event has attracted a number of elderly onlookers inside the store, and as Nicky makes his grand entrance via a large Victorian staircase one gentleman asks me who he is. He goes on to remark that he saw the Manics on Strictly Come Dancing; proof that in 20 years the band have gone from anti-establishment upstarts to ‘National Treasures’.

‘Death of a Polaroid’, a baby pink hardback heavyweight, is a selection of pictures that intimately documents the history of the Manics, shot of course as the title suggests, on Polaroid format. Each picture comes from the private collection of Nicky Wire, the self confessed archivist of the band, and combines candidly captured portraits along with concept and documentary photography.

“I’m not a photographer. I’m a Polaroid freak who thinks that the colours and the vividness and the memories encapsulated in this art form are spectacular. Nothing moves me more.”
Nicky Wire

As a long time follower of the band it’s nice to get a rare view from the inside, particular highlights include studio bound shots and a myriad of alternative artwork for singles from the ‘This Is My Truth’ era. This visual journal is a fascinating look at what could be the last great British rock n roll band; the apt marriage of a dying genre and a dying photography format.

As featured on: The BBC Wales Music Blog

Jarrad ‘Nöir’ Owens

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