Review and Photography by Jonathan Taylor
After the release of their 11th studio album ‘Kind’ at the back end of last year the Stereophonics play two intimate warm up shows in Liverpool and Leeds in preparation for their extensive 25 date European and UK tour.
The Mountford Hall in Liverpool is predictably a sell out. Fans of the band who were fortunate enough to get a ticket to see the Welsh outfit in such a small and intimate venue are packed in tight to the extent that the overspill of the crowd are stood on chairs in the adjoining bar in a vain attempt to catch a glimpse of Kelly Jones and his comrades on the stage.
As the lights dim, the hall erupts as the Stereophonics take to the stage. The set opens with ‘Catacomb’ taken from their 10th studio album ‘Graffiti on the Train’ and ‘Superman’. Two beautifully gritty slices of Rock and Roll during which Kelly Jones works the stage with effortless charm and charisma. The set continues with a stunning rendition of ‘Lost with You’, ‘Geronimo’ and fan favourite ‘Maybe Tomorrow’. The crowd are then treated to the first outing of the night of new material from the latest release ‘Kind’, with the likes of ‘Hungover For You’, Bust This Town’ and ‘Fly Like an Eagle’. A beautiful acoustic offering penned by frontman Kelly Jones, which was inspired by his daughter’s recent sexuality admission.
The sets takes a noticeable drop in tempo and the likes of ‘Mr and Mrs Smith, ‘Boy On A Bike’, ‘Traffic’ and new tracks ‘This Life Ain’t Easy’ and ‘Make Friends With The Morning’ get an airing. It is a wonderful musical journey through the decades which demonstrates perfectly Jones’s superb story telling ability and is a lyrical masterclass of reflection and contemplation through the different chapters of Welsh man’s life.
‘Indian Summer’ gets the biggest response of the night from the crowd and the evening continues with the big hitters ‘Nice Day’, a stunning rendition of ‘Mr Writer’, ‘Just Looking’, the now iconic ‘Local Boy in a Photograph’ and ‘Bar Tender and the Thief’.
The encore is made up of ‘C’est La Vie’ and of course an explosive performance of ‘Dakota’.
Throughout their musical career, the Stereophonics have always continued to evolve, but have stayed true to the routes of their musical formula which has seen them have continued success since the release of their debut album ‘Word Gets Around back in 1997. Their prolonged career is testament to their ability to push boundaries, but keep the traditions of Rock and Roll as the primary focus and foundation of their music. Tonight’s journey through their nostalgic back catalogue demonstrates that these anthemic gems have stood the test of time and sound as fresh tonight as they did two decades ago. These gems sandwiched between the more reflective offerings of the new material made for an incredible night of music. The Stereophonics have deservedly stood the test of time and continually prove that without question they are one of the most cherished UK acts of recent decades.