FOR all that they deserve credit for maintaining the kind of career which sees them sell out arenas and release successful albums more than two decades after first breaking through, there’s something invigorating yet predictable about a Stereophonics show. But with a new Stereos album due next month, their singer and fulcrum Kelly Jones has been touring this summer with a series of concert hall dates and a set which is positively rustic by comparison.
Kelly Jones, Caird Hall, Dundee ****
Switching between piano and acoustic and electric guitars, his solo set here was backed by modest amounts of drums and violin from two backing players, as well as a guest appearance by support group The Wind and the Wave during a cover of Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty’s Can’t Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.
As well as being a showcase for the power and precision of Jones’ voice and the quality of his playing, his set of retooled hits, obscure Stereos’ songs and cover versions was also a rare chance for him to engage the crowd with some warm and very funny storytelling.
Against red curtains, a canopy of lights and some decorative lava lamps, he told us tales of following his father around the working men’s clubs he played, of youthful days with his former bandmate, the late Stuart Cable (notably Cable’s theft of the crust of Keith Richards shepherd’s pie backstage at the Stade de France), and – candidly – of the time he smashed up an ex-friend’s car for seeing his former partner.
In the wide selection of songs, this sense of mature reflection was echoed. The piano-led Before Anyone Knew Our Name and I Stopped to Fill My Car Up evoked his sense of loss over Cable; This Life Ain’t Easy But It’s the One That We All Got previewed the forthcoming album; and after Local Boy in the Photograph and Maybe Tomorrow were stripped back to their mournful bones, Dakota finally closed with the energy of the kind of show he’s more used to.