THIS was the Stereophonics’ second of two nights at the Hydro, at the start of the final European leg of a solid year of worldwide touring in support of their eighth album, Graffiti on the Train.
Stereophonics - Glasgow Hydro
For all that it showed this most conservative of British rock bands to be no closer than ever to striking upon a radical idea – even just an adventurous one would do after nearly two decades – it likewise confirmed their fans seem only to be swelling in number.
The Welsh group are something of a lone standard bearer for certain rockist values in these post-Oasis times, and that maybe goes part-way to explaining their unassailable popularity. Frontman Kelly Jones, bassist Richard Jones and guitarist Adam Zindani all emerged slinging their instruments like shotguns throughout sludgy opener Catacomb. Some new songs, Graffiti on the Train for one, were washed with synthesised orchestration and spoke to tropes of mid-career maturity creeping into their sound.
With the Tom Petty-inspired Indian Summer, they even seem to be softening up a bit. But the crowd’s most vocal reception was reserved for numbers from their earliest, post-Britpop breakthrough days, A Thousand Trees, Traffic and, pre-encore, a gritty Bartender And The Thief among them. Little as the years have flattered some of those songs, it was interesting to be reminded of a time when Jones was a songwriter trying to find a distinctive voice, before he began settling for simply hearing thousands of other peoples’ voices bellow his words back at him en masse.