Stereophonics - M.E.N Arena - 2.12.01
Its a shame because tonight I left asking the question where did it all go wrong? For some the answer may slip off the tongue easily with a retort like when was it ever right? But to me the Stereophonics were always a band you could rely on. They had that underlining lyrical base with the simplistic pub rock that proves if you're in the right place at the right time then anyone can make it. The problem is they never really progressed from that pub band mentality and still maintain that outmoded ideology that the music will simply speak for itself. What we get tonight is - no airs, no graces, no frills pub rock and frankly at this stage we want, if not not need, more from our rock & roll stars.
Its a far cry from the Roadhouse gig a few years ago where they played this very same city to about 200 people. It came at a time when the Stereophonics were vital - post Britpop Oasis were on the slide and Kelly came along with tales of small town life which everyone could relate to. Add to this mix tunes like "Local Boy In the Photograph" and "A Thousand Trees" which had an almost classic rock & roll edge with the simplicity of three chord punk and you had a band to believe in.
The real problem now is that the band are now playing venues more used to hosting the latest S Club Carnival with the odd Marilyn Manson or Slipknot concert thrown in for the hordes of Goth rockers you see scaring old ladies in supermarkets. To all intents and purposes you could replace the Stereophonics with 5 session musicians and most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference. The only time Kelly Jones acknowledges the audience is with reference to George Harrison in which he dedicates "Handbags and the Gladrags"...its a truly touching moment. With a back catalogue of songs from the aforementioned "Local Boy....." to more recent classics such as "T-Shirt Suntan" or "Have A Nice Day" and Kelly's interest in screenplays it might be a good idea to commission special films as a backdrop to the musical output.
Perhaps all that the band need is a little humanity to regain that once vital spirit. For the past 4 years the band have been constantly touring and maybe it would be better for all concerned if they took a little time off, regrouped and came back all the stronger for it. Its been said before that the Stereophonics possess a workman like attitude to music and perhaps they should look to those early days and ask themselves why they picked up an instrument in the first place.