After an afternoon in a local public house we arrived to the sounds of tonight’s sole support band, Matthew P (and his band presumably).
This historic venue was already pretty heaving as we sneaked our way stage wards and as it happens, Matthew P is the perfect soundtrack for this covert positioning exercise. Mainly due to the fact nobody was paying attention to the stage. Idle chit chat and vacant stares were sweeping in waves over the crowd as this folkster and his ensemble poured sweet melodies through the speakers. For English folk influenced music it was soaked in plenty of high aspirations with songs soaring on a beautifully grand scale. They are a promising talent, but they failed to impress the crowd who were here for something a bit special.
Kelly Jones, with the rest of the ‘Phonics in tow wasted no time in getting started tonight leaving little time for breath in-between sets, showing high enthusiasm and giddy eagerness to perform to their fans. Tonight was most definitely a long term fans night, as the entire show was focused on their cracking debut album Word Gets Around. The fact that the show was set in the Hammersmith Apollo rather than Wembley arena was a superb addition!
Now I quite like the concept of these nostalgic nights of music. For starters you only need to be familiar with one albums worth of material, plus if you happen to love the album (like mysef) its a once in a lifetime opportunity to turn back the clocks and party like it’s 1997. Plus Kelly provided his own song by song commentary chronicle, giving us an insight into the record from the artists perspective (plus a few wild drunken tales to boot).
The Stereophonics really seemed to be reveling in the adulation of their career kick starting moment and they successfully returned to their former glory throughout the performance. Rekindling the spirit which brought them their first break and memories of recently deceased drummer Stuart Cable. They played with an almost teenage like intensity and a celebratory vigor what seems to be lost from their recent albums.
It’s tough of me to pick a favourite track tonight, but for sure their more chart successful singles were best received. Songs in the shape of A Thousand Trees, Local Boy In A Photograph & More Life In A Tramps Vest. Thrown in amongst the WGA track listing (which was interestingly played on shuffle) were a whole host of B-Sides, much of which were B-Sides for a reason. Although out of their out clippings a few sparks shone brightest, Buy Myself a Small Plane was a rampage of punky adolescent energy while She Takes Her Clothes Off made it onto Performance & Cocktails (incidentally being played here tomorrow night).
With the final chords of Local Boy still buzzing in our ears we turned to head home. However Kelly and the boys were not finished there yet. Returning for a second encore a video screen flashed dated past our eyes in a random selection which finally came to rest on 1999, accompanied shortly by an image of Performance & Cocktails album cover. Clearly we were in for an extra special night as the band kicked into the first of 3 tunes from this classic album, Just Looking, Pick A Part That’s New & I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio.
Continuing this run of outstanding pop-rock classic’s Stereophonics visited You Gotta Go There To Come Back to play Maybe Tomorrow, Just Enough Education To Perform for a rendition of Have A Nice Day before fast forwarding to probably their greatest hit Dakota before returning to satisfy the fans who were baying for Bartender & The Thief. As encores go this has to go down as the best ever!
Stereophonics were having the time of their lives remembering the good old days when making music was a way out, a new life. Some of this passion filtered though in tonight’s show and boy did they put on a cracking show! Yet another contender for Gig of the Year!