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With their ninth studio release topping the charts earlier this year and its predecessor attaining platinum status, Stereophonics are enjoying something of a career renaissance. Further evidence of this are the multiple sold out arena dates on this tour, including tonight's show, and their recent announcement as a headliner at next year's Isle of Wight festival.
Opening with recent singles 'C'est La Vie' and 'I Wanna Get Lost With You', tonight's set perhaps reflects the reception of Stereophonics' recent albums. Naturally, the current release is well promoted with outings of 'Sunny' and 'White Lies', both of which see frontman Kelly Jones unusually take piano duties, while 'Mr And Mrs Smith' translates well to stage and allows drummer Jamie Morrison to shine. Rather than just singles from 'Graffiti On The Train', the audience also receives 'Been Caught Cheating', 'Roll The Dice' and 'Catacomb', the latter of which leads to the band visibly enjoying the chance to rock out. To their credit, Stereophonics employ a string section to provide the greater orchestral focus of recent material, as well as breathing life into staples in their set such as 'Traffic' and 'Handbags And Gladrags' - quite possibly the biggest sing-along of the show.
Even with the heavy weighting toward their recent work, Stereophonics of course knock out crowd-pleasers with consummate ease - although the 'Pull The Pin' and 'Keep Calm & Carry On' LPs are ignored altogether. 'A Thousand Trees', 'I Wouldn't Believe Your Radio', 'Maybe Tomorrow' and several others provide a reminder of the strength of their library, while teased new arrangements to big-hitters 'Local Boy In The Photograph' and 'The Bartender And The Thief' ultimately lead to raucous renditions of anthems still loved over 15 years after they were released. Invariably it is the band's only number one single to date, 'Dakota', which sends the masses home happy and covered in ticker tape and confetti. It concludes a clinical performance from an act who can still very much hold their own on the live circuit, and in Jones, have one of the strongest vocal performers in British rock music.
The band used an impressive 2,056 words in their first three albums.
A tasty chunk of news for the music nerds: Manic Street Preachers have been found to be the most lyrically diverse act in a study of Welsh artists. Wales Online conducted the study to celebrate the release of the rock act's latest album, Futurology, and found that 2,056 unique words were used in only the Manics' first three albums.
The band emerged as top of the study, beating fellow Welsh superstars Stereophonics and Tom Jones. As the news site so appropriately points out, "For a band who sang "libraries gave us power," it's no shock that their use of language and words to get their message across."
For comparison, Cynon Valley group Stereophonics also scored highly with 1,453 different words used in their early back-catalogue, but Tom Jones' early work in the '60s saw just 867 words used over the his three first albums, with his third most-used word being "pussycat."
Coinciding with the recent release of their eighth studio record, which entered the chart at number three, Stereophonics are on a tour of venues smaller than their traditional UK shows. The jaunt sold-out quickly, indicating the band are still a strong live draw even if recent albums haven't had huge commercial success, and they've just released dates for shows in November that'll see them hit the country's arenas.
As with the new record, tonight's show is opened with 'We Share The Same Sun', though on stage it has a bit more muscle than the studio counterpart, which receives pleasant applause that pales hugely against the celebrations for 'The Bartender And The Thief' and 'A Thousand Trees'. This sets the pattern for the night, in which new cuts are dropped between songs from the entire back catalogue - and sees the exclusion of previous set staples such as 'More Life In A Tramp's Vest' and 'Pick A Part That's New'. In the main the move works, with the crowd enjoying tight renditions of 'Vegas Two Times', 'Superman' and 'Local Boy In The Photograph' amongst others, while even the tepid 'Could You Be The One For Me?' is warmly applauded. The only real clanger in the selection is 'Bank Holiday Monday', which whilst aggressive, seems to bypass the audience completely.
The replication of 'Graffiti On The Train' generally sees the band stay true to the release and 'Indian Summer' shows signs of already becoming a favourite. 'Violins And Tambourines', 'Catacomb' and 'Roll The Dice' benefit from bigger dynamics, with the first of those in particular developing into a dramatic crescendo that contrasts well with its mellow opening. By his own admission, Kelly Jones - who is in fine voice throughout - knows the blues of 'Been Caught Cheating' isn't what would be expected of Stereophonics, but it goes down well enough and provides the Welshman the opportunity to really demonstrate what a powerful vocalist he is. Audience interaction is mainly limited to small acknowledgements, but before the closing 'Dakota', Jones - a fan of the city's football club - breaks out a crowd-pleasing "Leeds Leeds Leeds" chant. The career-changing track - after eight years their first and still only number one single to date - is a simple and joyful anthem, providing a sure-fire way to send punters home happy.
It's been four years since Stereophonics released their limp seventh album 'Keep Calm And Carry On' and the interim period has seen former Noisettes drummer Jamie Morrison replace Javier Weyler. He'll be performing on an imminent tour of smaller venues before larger shows later in the year are separated by a summer of festivals - they've been announced for V and T In The Park thus far.
The lack of direction that characterised the last release has certainly been addressed by Kelly Jones for album eight - and those who favour the lazy 'meat and potatoes' tag for the band will have to find a new phrase. Whilst this is not a 'Kid A'-style reinvention, this is easily the darkest record the band has produced and terrace anthems are at a premium. 'We Share The Same Sun' has a big chorus and 'Indian Summer' is radio-friendly, but the former finds Jones in analytical mood while the string-laden latter forgoes the riffs usually associated with the 'Phonics. Orchestral sounds feature more prominently than most would anticipate, no more so than on 'Violins And Tambourines'; a brooding number with a cinematic feel that may seem tough-going but has a rewarding crescendo. The ponderous 'Roll The Dice' is enjoyably big band, while the aggressive all-out rock of 'Catacomb' sits nicely at the centre of the album.
A turn at blues on 'Been Caught Cheating' utilises Jones' strong vocal style well, a quality also evident on 'No-one's Perfect'; a melancholic ballad that is brutally honest and revealing. He has also produced one of the best narrative songs in the shape of the title track since the band's debut. Only with 'Take Me' does the experimentation fail dramatically, a dark duet with an unnamed female vocalist ambles over a haunting piano line but never hooks attention. The majority of 'Graffiti On The Train' does though and the lack of commercial aspiration is an important stride for the band's evolution.
Continue reading: Stereophonics - 'Graffiti On The Train' Album Review
Though their recent 'Keep Calm And Carry On' album failed to hit the top ten, Stereophonics' live popularity is seemingly intact as they play their seventh UK arena tour. Their summer schedule includes festival appearances at T In The Park, Oxegen and V, as well as being the first band to play the new stadium in Cardiff.
Continue reading: Stereophonics, Manchester MEN Arena March 7, 2010 Live Review
Review of Stereophonics album Keep Calm And Carry On.
Continue reading: Stereophonics, Keep Calm And Carry On Album Review
Review of Stereophonics live at Cardiff Castle, Cardiff on Saturday October 2, 2009.
Continue reading: Stereophonics, Cardiff Castle, 2 October 09 Live Review
Review of Stereophonics live at Nottingham Trent FM Arena
Continue reading: Stereophonics, Nottingham Trent FM Arena, Live Review
Continue reading: Stereophonics, The Enemy, Manchester M.E.N. Arena Live Review
Pull The Pin
The Stereophonics' decade-long music career has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride, going from being hailed as one of Britain's premier rock bands to be critically mauled for the acoustic flavour of 2001's "Just Enough Education to Perform" album. However, this turned out to be their biggest selling record and while 2005's "Language. Sex. Violence. Other?" was met with positive reviews; it didn't match up it turns of sales figures, just going to show how strange the music business is. Having previewed new material back in spring, this is their sixth studio release and will be supported with a UK arena tour in November.
The sound of a news report and wailing siren begins "Soldiers Make Good Targets" before a monstrous metal riff comes rolling in, swiftly followed Javier Weyler's pounding drums. A mid-paced number, it gets cranked up at the chorus and is aided by a twisted solo, all of which firmly announces the band's return. With a bouncier vibe is "Pass The Buck", destined to become a live favourite with its killer hook and featuring a big Kelly Jones rant. Lead single "It Means Nothing" drops the tempo for a ballad inspired by the London underground bombings, as the band take a philosophical look at what really matters in life. It is saved from being drippy by a crescendo of guitars, before the trio again up the tempo for the previously available download taster "Bank Holiday Monday". With shades of Oasis' "Bring It On Down", the frenetic pace and spiralling guitars has already seen it become a favourite with fans.
It is often claimed that Stereophonics' success meant that Kelly Jones was no longer able to draw inspiration from the 'small town life' that coloured much of their debut, "Word Gets Around". Perhaps for the first time since that era, he has penned a narrative number that is precise in detail and utterly engaging. "Daisy Lane" is the tender tale of a schoolboy who was stabbed for his mobile phone on the street on which Jones lives. The gentle acoustic backing gives his voice prominence on what is a standout moment of the record. The brooding "Stone" follows it up, lit by a chorus of epic proportions, before the mood is lightened by the upbeat and poppy tones of "My Friends". Describing how he'd like a "girl down on me in the theatre", "I Could Lose Ya" is a sleazy track of simple, choppy guitars that and the type of chorus that quickly gets in your mind.
More fitting of Jones recent solo record, "Bright Red Star" simply features the vocalist and an acoustic guitar for a sweet ditty that proves a respite until the crunching distorted chords that introduce "Lady Luck". Darker in mood than previous tracks, the verses are rhythm based before the guitars kick in again for a mammoth chorus. "Crush" is a stomping track that should delight audiences as a pulsating sing-along and the album is ended with the climatic "Drowning", which wouldn't have felt out of place on the previous 'phonics record. Slow and patiently developed, it is a satisfying conclusion to the record and thankfully isn't overblown or overdrawn. It also provides balance to a collection of songs which sees the band take the best parts of their previous work and bring them together for a record that is consistently pleasing.
Stereophonics & Little Man Tate
Empress Ballroom, Blackpool
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Continue reading: Stereophonics and Little Man Tate, Empress Ballroom, Live Review
Only The Names Have Been Changed
Continue reading: Kelly Jones, Only The Names Have Been Changed, Album Review
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It’s vocal time! https://t.co/uysqTJ2Mrt
Back in the studio! https://t.co/Ia04qLGFs7
Pleased to announce that we will be headlining the @ynotfestival on Friday 30th July ☀️🎸 Tickets are on sale now!… https://t.co/Nx5zXn9bhj
Tickets for the @ScarboroughOAT show on Wednesday 28th July 🎸☀️ ARE ON SALE NOW 🎫 https://t.co/jXfmN1bpM5 https://t.co/m3JsJcVwgB
Pleased to announce that we will be headlining the @ScarboroughOAT on Wednesday 28th July 🎸☀️ Tickets go on sale F… https://t.co/3VGO7nI9ur
Pleased to announce that we will be headlining @KendalCalling festival on Saturday 31st July! For more info about t… https://t.co/va1MKlQuZr
If you're missing live music, tune in tonight to @absoluteradio 📻at 9pm to hear highlights from last year’s stormin… https://t.co/HEBmlTQi6T
Happy Saturday everyone! Love the best international dishwasher https://t.co/JGBjjAX5av
Otis Redding is my favourite singer. I saw the wreckage of his plane in Cleveland. To sing with that much feel in y… https://t.co/njejDJyFjV
“Of Mice and Men!” Kelly https://t.co/yvsUVB15bc
Rocking is my biznez! Kelly https://t.co/tcOAzpHS7U
Happy New Year everyone! ❤️🥳 https://t.co/KI3fTELgW3
Throwback to Kelly’s incredible performance on last year’s @BBCLater Hootenanny 🎉 with the wonderful @yolandabrown… https://t.co/DWAi0EjjmX
You still have 2 days to watch #dontletthedeviltakeanotherdayfilm you just have to order it by midnight tonight. De… https://t.co/stQtnALZYm
Stereophonics have been nominated for the @RadioX Record of the Year for ‘Don’t Let The Devil Take Another Day’! If… https://t.co/u9dCSTXrMR
Don’t miss out on your chance to watch the film fans are loving!! You have until midnight on the 26th December to s… https://t.co/6BoBqzSoCb
If you missed Kelly’s interview this morning on @bbc5live you can catch up here 📻 https://t.co/SROTLdz5pT https://t.co/Dt7hsNmNrk
Go Jamie! ❤️🎄 https://t.co/zhDJXEa9Pd