Stereophonics at The O2 ArenaCultureMusicLive music
Welsh setup Stereophonics have been impressing global audiences with their tried and tested alt-rock sound since the late 90s. With more than a decade of touring and stage experience under their collective belt, one would expect an impressive performance from lead singer Kelly Jones and company. It does not come as a surprise that, before 20,000 expectant fans at the O2 Arena (small fry when you’ve headlined Glastonbury), the veteran band provide a masterful tour de force of new and old material on the London leg of their 2015 tour, promoting their new album, Keep the Village Alive.
Flanked by bassist Richard Jones, guitarist Adam Zindani and backed by drummer Jamie Morrison (the group’s third drummer, following Javier Weyler and Stuart Cable), Kelly wastes little time on pleasantries. He opens with “Hi, y’alright London”, with a trace of the Welsh valleys that hasn’t diminished despite global popularity, before launching into the biting guitar chords and soaring vocals of two singles from the new album, C’est la Vie and I Wanna Get Lost with You. Throughout the rest of a tireless two-hour set, however, there is only the barest smattering of material from the group’s newest studio production. New tracks such as Song for the Summer, White Lies and Mr and Mrs Smith eschew any of the innovation found in 2013’s Graffiti on the Train, instead falling back on a tried and tested sound that has been refined, rather than innovated. Refinement isn’t to be used pejoratively, however. Here is a band that know their product and play it with technical excellence; Jones’ trademark voice, gravelly, melodic and melancholy, stands out during these songs and keeps an appreciative audience clapping and swaying along.
Undoubtedly, for new and old fans alike, the real draw of a gig from such a prolific band is the opportunity to see some of their extensive back catalogue in a live setting, and the Stereophonics don’t disappoint. In fact, the only factor that mars an otherwise outstanding set is that the band choose a roster of certified hits over a more structured set, which would take the audience on an aural journey. That isn’t to say a musical lap of honour isn’t welcome; Dakota, Violins and Tambourines and Mr Writer are as excellent now as they were on release and Kelly’s voice still astounds in its range and depth.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
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Watch the video for C’est la Vie here: