I am a huge fan of the Stereophonics. Or at least, I was. Seeing them support Skunk Anansie at the Barrowlands back in 1997 before their debut Word Gets Around. When the three-piece “pop-rock” band were young and had real fire in their belly it would be hard not to become a fan.
Since then I’ve seen them on every album tour, from debut album tiny venues, headlining Festivals on Performance & Cocktails, the Kelly Jones ‘JEEP’ acoustic tour and everything after. Pull The Pin was OK but The Greatest Hits tour of 2008 was fantastic. Then came Keep Calm and Carry On.
I couldn’t keep calm, and I certainly couldn’t carry on. The album limped along, was dull and boring, and the resulting arena shows were equally lacklustre. Even the infamous Glasgow-crowd couldn’t improve on these shows. I swore I’d never see them again, and if they hadn’t announced a series of “intimate” shows this Christmas I’d have stuck to that.
The thing is, when they’re on fire the Stereophonics are great live. When they’re great live in a small venue then the roof is well and truly raised. So it was worth taking the risk. You know, just in case.
The venue was rammed, the crowd were well up for it. Just as well then that the band blasted on stage with ‘The Bartender and the Thief’, ‘A Thousand Trees’, ‘Superman’ and then ‘Pick A Part That’s New’. Sounding fantastic Jones, Jones, et al had the band completely on side.
Sure, one of the main reasons for the tour was to road-test some new album tracks so it was inevitable we would hear something new tonight. Two tracks were aired; free single ‘In A Moment’ and ‘Violins and Tambourines’ for which a music video was released recently. The new album, Graffiti On The Train comes out in March and based on the two tracks played tonight I am now looking forward to it. It’s fair to say that after the last album I had given up on it, but it seems I may be wrong.
Kelly Jones seemed to be in a great mood for this show, and new (ex-Noisettes) drummer Jamie Morrison appears to be bedding in well. It has to be said though that as the lights flash and the strobes work their magic during a performance his mane of curly hair and playing style does remind of the late Stuart Cable. Kind of eerie actually, but his playing definitely works.
As this was a more intimate show the tickets sold out in 2 minutes. As the tickets sold out in 2 minutes it was safe to say that almost all of the capacity crowd were big fans. Therefore the band took the opportunity to drop some of the more obvious songs (‘Traffic’,'Have A Nice Day’) and play rarely aired songs such as ‘Plastic California’ and many from “…the last album Stu played with us on, this is for Stuart Cable…” before You Gotta Go There To Go Back.
The set was 24 songs long and the band seemed re-invigorated and ready to prove themselves again. Let’s hope that in 2013 we continue to see the return of the Stereophonics which justifies the 26 times I’ve seen them. Hell, this show was so good I’ve even listened to Keep Calm and Carry On again!