Entertainment & Arts

Manic Street Preachers star Nicky Wire pulls out of Biggest Weekend gig

Nicky Wire
Image caption The show will go ahead with a stand-in bassist

Manic Street Preachers star Nicky Wire has pulled out of the band's headline performance at the BBC's Biggest Weekend performance.

The star is unable to perform "due to a serious family illness", the band said in a statement.

Frontman James Dean Bradfield has told the BBC, a member of their road crew will stand in for the bassist

"I don't want to put too much pressure on the lad, but he's a guy called Richard from Pontypool in Wales."

Bradfield added: "Rich has stood in for Nick a couple of times when his mother was so ill he couldn't travel, so he's done it before and he's a brilliant musician. He's very adept at doing stuff like this."

"He's been with us for over 10 years now and he's cool.

"He hasn't quite got the calf muscles Nicky's got, so he's not going to be wearing a skirt!"

The Manics, alongside Beck and Orbital, top the bill on the first day of the BBC's UK-wide music festival.

Previously, 80s pop band Tears For Fears were forced to pull out of a performance on the Radio 2 stage in Coventry due to "unforeseen health concerns".

However, there will still be performances across the weekend from Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Paloma Faith, Florence + The Machine, Nigel Kennedy, Evelyn Glennie and Liam and Noel Gallagher.

Father John Windy

US singer Father John Misty got the 6 Music leg of the Biggest Weekend started in Belfast earlier.

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Media captionFather John Misty plays Please Don't Die with the Ulster Orchestra

The eccentric crooner – formerly of Fleet Foxes – was backed by the Ulster Orchestra for a special performance at the city’s Titanic Slipways venue.

The singer opened with a humble: "Lovely to be here", before joking: "Wind versus sheet music. Let's see who emerges the victor."

He was followed on stage by art-rock band Public Service Broadcasting, who premiered a new piece about the ill-fated Titanic, which was built in Belfast between 1908 and 1912.

The music featured archive recordings from the building of the ship, as well as first-hand accounts from people who were involved in the construction.

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett also had a surprise in store for her mid-afternoon set.

"We'd like to welcome some special friends to sing the next one," she told the crowd, before announcing: "Please welcome Kim and Kelley Deal!"

The sisters - who perform together in The Breeders - provided backing vocals (and some auntie-at-a-wedding dance moves) for Barnett's recent single Nameless, Faceless.

The Breeders will be back on stage later to play their own set.

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Media captionCourtney Barnett plays Nameless Faceless

Highlights of Friday’s action in Belfast will be on BBC Four from 19:30, with the Manics on live from 20:00.

Meanwhile in Perth, BBC Radio 3 took over Perth's for a day of classical music.

Kicking off with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, the line-up also includes a tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber and a headline set from violinist Nigel Kennedy.

The Biggest Weekend, which fills a gap left by Glastonbury's fallow year, will be covered extensively on BBC TV and radio, with full sets available on the BBC iPlayer.

You can find out how to watch and listen on the official Biggest Weekend site.

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