With their ninth studio release topping the charts earlier this year and its predecessor attaining platinum status, Stereophonics are enjoying something of a career renaissance. Further evidence of this are the multiple sold out arena dates on this tour, including tonight's show, and their recent announcement as a headliner at next year's Isle of Wight festival.
Opening with recent singles 'C'est La Vie' and 'I Wanna Get Lost With You', tonight's set perhaps reflects the reception of Stereophonics' recent albums. Naturally, the current release is well promoted with outings of 'Sunny' and 'White Lies', both of which see frontman Kelly Jones unusually take piano duties, while 'Mr And Mrs Smith' translates well to stage and allows drummer Jamie Morrison to shine. Rather than just singles from 'Graffiti On The Train', the audience also receives 'Been Caught Cheating', 'Roll The Dice' and 'Catacomb', the latter of which leads to the band visibly enjoying the chance to rock out. To their credit, Stereophonics employ a string section to provide the greater orchestral focus of recent material, as well as breathing life into staples in their set such as 'Traffic' and 'Handbags And Gladrags' - quite possibly the biggest sing-along of the show.
Even with the heavy weighting toward their recent work, Stereophonics of course knock out crowd-pleasers with consummate ease - although the 'Pull The Pin' and 'Keep Calm & Carry On' LPs are ignored altogether. 'A Thousand Trees', 'I Wouldn't Believe Your Radio', 'Maybe Tomorrow' and several others provide a reminder of the strength of their library, while teased new arrangements to big-hitters 'Local Boy In The Photograph' and 'The Bartender And The Thief' ultimately lead to raucous renditions of anthems still loved over 15 years after they were released. Invariably it is the band's only number one single to date, 'Dakota', which sends the masses home happy and covered in ticker tape and confetti. It concludes a clinical performance from an act who can still very much hold their own on the live circuit, and in Jones, have one of the strongest vocal performers in British rock music.
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