There is a timeless quality to the Stereophonics. Over two decades on from their breakthrough, they have another number 1 album and Sheffield and Birmingham Arenas were full as they set off on their latest UK tour. For over two hours Kelly Jones, Richard Jones, Adam Zindani and Jamie Morrison covered every corner of their extensive catalogue including the very latest crowd-pleasers form the latest album Kind.
Kelly Jones takes his place, alone, at the end of the runway stretching out into the crowd to open with C’est La Vie before returning to the main stage as the band break into their stride with I Wanna Get Lost With You and the first of the evening from the new album, Bust This Town.
It’s not long before they return to some of their early classics, Maybe Tomorrow, Have A Nice Day and Mr Writer and a mass sing-a-long begins. Incredibly, Kelly Jones seems not to have aged down the years and, as the creative force within the band, he is able to tackle any subject with aplomb, new track Hungover For You is a tale from the bottom of a wine bottle.
As the lights go down at the end of the song Kelly finds himself alone with his guitar on the main stage. Singing the first verse and chorus of I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio he wanders out onto the runway where he finds the rest of the band, co-founder Richard Jones (bass), Adam Zindani (guitar) and drummer Jamie Morrison beneath a huge swath of fairy lights. Local Boy In A Photograph, A Thousand Trees and Traffic all hark back to the Stereophonics earliest days. Kelly explains that the rest of the boys would never let him drive, they thought he was too slow. Traffic recorded his observations from the back seat of the car.
Back on the main stage, the new song Make Friends With The Morning has a gospel-like chant quality but, in a change of pace, Mr And Mrs Smith sees Jamie Morrison explode on his kit, a thunderous burst of machine gun fire. Slowing it down again, Fly Like An Eagle is another new song, a cry for freedom, meanders it’s way across the hall before the boys get heavy with Superman and Kelly launches into a soaring guitar solo. They follow up with Don’t Let The Devil Take Another Day, also from the new album, very much in the classic Stereophonics upbeat rock mould.
Handbags And Gladrags has become an iconic rock track down the ages, a staple of Rod Stewart’s early days with The Faces. The Stereophonics breathed new life into it, almost twenty years ago, and Kelly recalled meeting the writer Mike D’Abo backstage at the recording of a Jools Holland TV show. Mike thanked him for recording the song and said that, thanks to the Stereophonics, the patio he had been laying in his garden was now a beautiful conservatory! This was a great rendition and featured Tony Kirkham on piano.
With the piano centre stage, Kelly puts down his guitar and sits alone at the piano, sharing his memories of his old friend, the band’s original drummer, Stuart Cable. This was the boy down the street, in a small town in Wales, with whom Kelly would form the earliest incarnation of the Stereophonics and Before Anyone Knew Our Name provided a moving tribute to his late friend.
Sunny gives Kelly another opportunity to wander out on to the runway, amid another blistering guitar solo and Bartender And The Thief provides a rousing finale to the main set.
The encore begins quietly with Kelly perched on a stool clutching a ukulele given to him by Richard Jones to sing Elevators. Then it was back to basics for Just Looking, one of their very best anthems and, astonishingly, Stereophonics only UK number one single Dakota, which Kelly wrote while on tour in the States with David Bowie.
There is something reassuringly satisfying about the Stereophonics. Across two decades they have consistently made great music, the early tracks have stood the test of time and sound just as fresh today, alongside a clutch of new songs that are set to become concert favourites for many more years to come.
- C’est La Vie
- I Wanna Get Lost With You
- Bust This Town
- Maybe Tomorrow
- Have A Nice Day
- Mr Writer
- Hungover For You
- I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio (extract)
- Local Boy In The Photograph
- A Thousand Trees
- Graffiti On The Train
- Make Friends With The Morning
- Mr And Mrs Smith
- Fly Like An Eagle
- Hurry Up And Wait
- Don’t Let The Devil Take Another Day
- Handbags And Gladrags
- Before Anyone Knew Our Name
- Bartender And The Thief
- Just Looking
The Stereophonics tour continues through March with only a very limited ticket availability at some venues.
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