Indie-rock icons Stereophonics prove they've still got it with their triumphant, crowd-pleasing set at Nottingham's Motorpoint Arena.
Fresh from winning ‘Best Indie Act’ and the ‘Global Special Award’ earlier in the week at the Global Awards, Welsh indie stalwarts Stereophonics showed Nottingham why they’re still one of Britain’s best indie acts, still going strong after almost 25 years and 11 albums.
Opening with the powerful and lively C’est La Vie, the tone was set for an energetic and hard-working performance from the band. They followed up with the similarly fast paced I Wanna Get Lost With You before then introducing Bust this Town, from their most recent and 7th number 1 album, Kind.
With such an extensive back catalogue of hits to choose from, getting the crowd in the singalong mood that their choruses deserve was an easy feat. Classics Maybe Tomorrow and Have a Nice Day were bellowed back by the crowd, and it became clear why Stereophonics consistently sell out arenas, tour after tour.
Frontman Kelly Jones sprinkled the show with small stories of his and the band’s history throughout, making the arena feel that extra bit smaller. The first of the stories went back to Jones’ childhood and his first memories of songwriting. In jealousy of his two older brothers playing music in the bath, taking away the speakers before it was his turn, he would make up his own songs instead, his then-audience of a wind-up Jaws shark toy a far cry from the arenas and stadiums he would go on to sell out with Stereophonics.
'With such an extensive back catalogue of hits to choose from, getting the crowd in the singalong mood that their choruses deserve was an easy feat'.
The extended stage set up utilised midway through the show brought the band right in the middle of the audience, giving an intimate feel that a lot of arena shows fail to achieve. Just as the audience needed picking up after a couple of slower songs, early hits Local Boy in the Photograph and A Thousand Trees did exactly that, showcasing Jones’ crisp and powerful vocals. In an age where lots of singer’s vocals seem to decline with age, his only seem to have ripened.
The only criticism to be levelled against Stereophonics is that at points, their songs can seem quite formulaic, with mid-paced verses and pop styled choruses, usually followed by a riff towards the end. Seeing them live however, it’s clear that formulaic or not, it’s a winning formula and one that has seen them stay at the top across decades. Stereophonics may lack an evolution in their music, but it works to their benefit, giving them a timeless feel that sees them as ever-present festival headliners to this day.
'Stereophonics may lack an evolution in their music, but it works to their benefit, giving them a timeless feel that sees them as ever-present festival headliners to this day'.
The most touching moment of the night came with Before Anyone Knew Our Name, a song in tribute to late former drummer Stuart Cable. Preceded by a light hearted story about opening for the Rolling Stones in Paris – where Cable broke the only rule of Keith Richards’ dressing room, bursting the crust on his shepherd’s pie – what followed was a touching tribute through a song that reflected on the early days of the band, practising in their local social club in their valley town of Cwmaman.
Closing their set in style with probably their best known song Dakota – written while touring with Bowie – the audience were left in no doubt that they had just witnessed a band consistently give everything on stage. Enjoying every moment as if it was their first arena tour, Stereophonics were a joy to watch.