Kelly Jones charms the Hammersmith Apollo with a wondrous collection of songs and anecdotes
Opening with Hurry Up and Wait from Stereophonics’ sophomore record Performance and Cocktails, Kelly Jones sets the mood and pace for a night that his fans will hardly forget. Being the frontman of a band, with just one largely unpromoted solo album under his belt, it’s a rarity to see the singer performing on his own. This is his second ever headlining show in London.
Only the Names Have Been Changed, Jones’s solo record from 2007, is made of ten songs named after ten girls – and recorded in just two days whilst working on the band’s sixth album, Nick Cave and Johnny Cash serving as an inspiration. He plays four tracks from it, and tonight’s semi-acoustic setup lets the singer explore what he didn’t have the chance to in studio on Katie and Rosie.
This tour’s sound – a mix of piano, violin and trumpet – also gives a new life to classics such as You’re My Star, Just Looking and Show Me How. The brass, in particular, is a killer on Rainbows and Pots of Gold.
The best songwriters are those who, despite being part of a band, can deliver their best simply by singing their heart out, on a stage, with just an instrument. Chris Martin with his piano; Noel Gallagher and his guitar. Jones is closer to the latter, and tonight he misses the chance to show off what he can do on his own. I Stopped to Fill My Car Up, had it been entirely solo on the keyboard, would have been heartbreaking. The same goes for Mr Writer (which is phenomenal anyway) and Maybe Tomorrow.
Or take Dakota. The performer goes close to the Stereophonics version without playing the iconic guitar lines. It’s still a great rendition but it just lacks something from the original rather than adding something new by performing it in a completely new way.
Jones’s voice is extraordinary. There are many theories as to why Welsh singers tend to be so good. Some claim it’s the air. The rocker’s powerful and intense vocals, though, build on something more profound than a natural gift; it’s deeply connected with his own life’s journeys, all the ups and all the downs.
Throughout the night he shares with the audience precious personal memories. First, the day their late former drummer Stuart Cable, whilst in Paris supporting the Stones, ate a spoon of Keith Richard’s shepherd’s pie, causing a scene (apparently no one is allowed to break the crust before him). Then, when they were soundchecking for a David Bowie support show in the US, in 2003; because of the short time and numerous guitar settings, they could only play 20 to 40 seconds of each song. By the end of it, Jones asked the White Duke what he thought and he said, with his arm around the Welsh singer, “if you extended some of those songs you might be onto something”.
It’s a great setlist, one of those that make fans’ love for it outweigh the casual concertgoers’ disappointment for the lack of several hits. Feel, Rewind, Into the World as well as the Before Anyone Knew Our Name and Rainbows and Pots of Gold are the reason why nights like these should be treasured.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Mike Garnell
For further information and future events visit Kelly Jones’s website here.
Watch the video for Rainbows and Pots of Gold here: