Stereophonic @Troxy, East London. December 20th
The Stereophonics were sitting comfortably in the nineties whilst the likes of Oasis and Blur had their faux chart battle that became less about music and more about identity - parkas versus polos etc. It was hard to flick the radio switch without hearing Kelly Jones’ gravel voice and that remained a fact for a good ten years or so. Their second album, Performance and Cocktails, shot them into the mainstream charts and gave them huge success that surpassed the Britpop phase and secured them as chart rock heroes, here to stay.
Stereophonics played to a sold out gig in London - the venue was the little-known Troxy - Which is a great and intimate venue that sadly is in the middle of nowhere somewhere in East London on a street that you wouldn’t want to linger on for too long. A relatively small venue compared to what these guys are used to playing which is undoubtedly why the crowd were so hyped.
They opened with classic such as: Bartender & The Thief; Thousand Trees and Pick A Part That’s New. I’m always left wondering whilst watching these Welsh wonder-boys why they are not hailed as Britpop kings in the way the aforementioned Gallagher brothers or Damon Albarn always have been. Maybe they are cursed by the fact that they have tunes like Have a nice day that get frequent radio which some may view as a sign of lacking in credibility but these guys have stood the test of time- and they’re back-catalogue is astonishing. They are masterful with their instruments and come out and play with a confidence that is well earned.
As a live band they are still strong and perhaps better than ever. Kelly’s raspy vocals have stood the test of time, as have his good looks and charm - and new drummer Jamie Morrison appears charismatic and evokes the spirit of deceased original drummer Stuart Cable. The most refreshing thing too see is that these guys, particularly front man Kelly bask in the atmosphere which is unusual to see from a band after a good ten years of success. There’s no arrogance just a genuine zest for performing their best-loved tunes.
Stereophonics are due to release a new album early 2013. They played a few new tracks including, Indian Summer- a romantic and mellow acoustic pop tune and In a moment; which saw Stereophonics reveal they’re darker side, a la brooding tracks Mr Writer and Superman. The kind of track that could easily feature on a horror film soundtrack, it cast a shadow over the Troxy showing the four Welshmen have no plans to stop making great music just yet. Other classics included More life in a tramp’s vest and Maybe Tomorrow with the crowd singing Kelly’s lyrics back to him in moments of adulation.
The band re-emerged in a typically planned encore to play Violins and Tambourines,Traffic and the hugely popular Dakota which got everybody bellowing the chorus in unison: “Make me feel like the one.” It’s these kind of sing a long songs that make Stereophonics a great live band to watch. They’re the order of the night, not just resigned to their more-well known songs, which is a testament to the bands back catalogue of belters.