With their tenth studio album narrowly missing out on being a chart-topper, Stereophonics are in the midst of another largely sold-out UK arena tour. Their itinerary will then see them head to Australia, before returning to these shores for the festival season and a couple of their own headline stadium shows.
Opening with the brooding 'Chances Are' from their latest release, frontman Kelly Jones wastes no time utilising the ego ramp protruding into the crowd, which will later double up as a 'B stage'. Radio-friendly recent single 'Caught By The Wind' follows and receives crowd approval, while the energy is continued by another of their more recent catalogue, 'C'est La Vie'. A cut from their debut is ecstatically greeted and the nostalgia is upped by 'More Life In A Tramp's Vest' being accompanied with video from the band's pre-fame days. 'Have A Nice Day' and 'Indian Summer' get the audience dancing, while the stomping 'Geronimo' sees a further musician take to the stage to bring the saxophone solo to life. Indeed, with their live incarnation now numbering six, the near production-free set on the ramp is crowded to say the least. It does make for a more intimate feel for the likes of 'Been Caught Cheating' and 'Handbags And Gladrags', before Kelly Jones allows his band mates a rest while he airs 'Boy On A Bike'.
As they flit between cuts new and old - 'Graffiti On The Train', 'Step On My Old Size Nines', 'Just Looking' - it is evident you'd struggle to find a tighter live unit. Also worth remarking on is the power of Jones' voice - 20 years in the business would understandably take a toll, yet in his case, it very much appears as powerful as ever and is particularly demonstrated on 'Traffic'. As a minor gripe the set list is somewhat predictable, but there's bang for your buck with over 25 songs in over two hours on stage. The big hitters are packed to the end - 'Local Boy In The Photograph', 'The Bartender And The Thief', 'Dakota' - but breaking them up is the brilliant 'Mr & Mrs Smith'. Not only a demonstration of Jones still being able to pen a small town tale, it provides Adam Zindani a chance to show off his vocal range, while Jamie Morrison's drum solo should be the show-stopping finale. More moments like this where they let loose could add more spark to their show, but you'd struggle to find much dissatisfaction with what is undoubtedly an accomplished show.
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