Opera House, Manchester
While 2007 will see the 10th anniversary of Stereophonics' debut album, it would seem that the band's leader, Kelly Jones, is not one to sit around and celebrate. A new record is due for release by the end of the year, but in the meantime he has released his first solo effort and is supporting it with a brief tour.
The hanging balconies of the Opera House are a world away from huge arena across town that Jones is more regularly found out, but provides a more appropriate and intimate setting for the organic nature of "Only The Names Have Been Changed". Backed by a string section and regular live keyboardist Tony Kirkham, Jones performs the tracks in the order they appear on his record and much to the same effect. Only "Emily" is of any real difference, sang with a passion and power that makes it superior to the studio counterpart. What is surprising is the amount of interaction he has with the audience. Hardly known for his public speaking skills, he deals with banter in a humorous manner and explains the stories behind the tracks, though occasionally fluffs his lines.
Though OTNHBC is a decent record in its own right, few could claim to be in attendance for it alone. They want to hear Stereophonics tracks and the encore sees them treated to five, a mixture of old and new. "Billy Davey's Daughter" is effortlessly stripped down, while "Hurry Up And Wait" gains a soothing mellow tone and "Maybe Tomorrow" is performed in a familiar manner to anyone who was at the band's last arena jaunt. The big sing-a-longs are reserved for "Local Boy In The Photograph" and an interesting interpretation of "Dakota", which sees the chart-topper slowed down to a mood more in keeping with the nights proceedings. It's enough to please the more casual fans and Jones has proved himself to be in good voice for Stereophonics' imminent return.
Read our Kelly Jones album review here