Review of Stereophonics live at the O2 Academy in Leeds on Monday 18th March 2013

Coinciding with the recent release of their eighth studio record, which entered the chart at number three, Stereophonics are on a tour of venues smaller than their traditional UK shows.  The jaunt sold-out quickly, indicating the band are still a strong live draw even if recent albums haven't had huge commercial success, and they've just released dates for shows in November that'll see them hit the country's arenas.


As with the new record, tonight's show is opened with 'We Share The Same Sun', though on stage it has a bit more muscle than the studio counterpart, which receives pleasant applause that pales hugely against the celebrations for 'The Bartender And The Thief' and 'A Thousand Trees'.  This sets the pattern for the night, in which new cuts are dropped between songs from the entire back catalogue - and sees the exclusion of previous set staples such as 'More Life In A Tramp's Vest' and 'Pick A Part That's New'.  In the main the move works, with the crowd enjoying tight renditions of 'Vegas Two Times', 'Superman' and 'Local Boy In The Photograph' amongst others, while even the tepid 'Could You Be The One For Me?' is warmly applauded.  The only real clanger in the selection is 'Bank Holiday Monday', which whilst aggressive, seems to bypass the audience completely.

The replication of 'Graffiti On The Train' generally sees the band stay true to the release and 'Indian Summer' shows signs of already becoming a favourite.  'Violins And Tambourines', 'Catacomb' and 'Roll The Dice' benefit from bigger dynamics, with the first of those in particular developing into a dramatic crescendo that contrasts well with its mellow opening.  By his own admission, Kelly Jones - who is in fine voice throughout - knows the blues of 'Been Caught Cheating' isn't what would be expected of Stereophonics, but it goes down well enough and provides the Welshman the opportunity to really demonstrate what a powerful vocalist he is.  Audience interaction is mainly limited to small acknowledgements, but before the closing 'Dakota', Jones - a fan of the city's football club - breaks out a crowd-pleasing "Leeds Leeds Leeds" chant.  The career-changing track - after eight years their first and still only number one single to date - is a simple and joyful anthem, providing a sure-fire way to send punters home happy.

Alex Lai

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