After the release of their sixth studio album and a couple of warm up shows, Stereophonics are now embarking on a 19 date arena tour of the UK and Ireland. Joining them are Coventry’s The Enemy, who have enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence in 2007, which will culminate in them playing a huge homecoming show at the Ricoh Arena in April next year.
Arriving on stage to a respectable audience, Tom Clarke leads his band straight into “Away From Here”, a sure-fire way to get hands clapping and feet stomping, and enough of a reaction for him to label those in attendance as the best of the tour so far. For the next 40 minutes they rifle through the majority of tracks from debut record “We’ll Live And Die In These Towns”, clinical in their performance and undaunted by the step up to larger venues. Clarke’s vocals are impressively strong, while Andy Hopkins is the archetypal Cool Bass Player. “40 Days And 40 Nights” takes the energy level up a notch, while most recent single “You’re Not Alone” proves a rousing finish. As support bands go, it doesn’t get much better than this.
With the backing track of former hit “Moviestar” blasting out of the arena’s PA system, Stereophonics waste little time ploughing through a mixture of old and new songs, beginning with “Bank Holiday Monday”, “The Bartender And The Thief”, “A Thousand Trees” and next single “My Friends”. Singer Kelly Jones lauds the crowd for their energy, which had apparently been missing from previous nights on the tour, and will go on to joke about his height (or lack of) and the size of bassist Richard Jones’ penis (he has to be nice because Richard’s missus is amongst the crowd). Particularly well received is “Pick A Part That’s New”, which had been axed from previous tours, while “Devil” provokes more jumping now than when it was released around the time of the band’s last arena shows.
When you’ve had a decade in the music industry and notched up as many hit singles as Stereophonics (23 and counting), it becomes a difficult task to cram in the tracks people want to hear alongside promoting new material. Jones’ solution to this is an acoustic medley consisting of a verse and chorus from “Hurry Up And Wait”, “Have A Nice Day” and “Traffic”. The latter two in particular have always provided a great opportunity for an audience sing-a-long, yet done in this manner they finish before they really get going. A thrilling “Deadhead” and “Local Boy In The Photograph” soon make up for it, while a mammoth “It Means Nothing” and party anthem “Dakota” conclude the show with everyone clapping and having a good time. It cements the band’s reputation as one of the country’s most prolific and professional live acts.
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