“If I go for a pint can I get back in?” asked a thirsty fan of the security guard. “What do you like more, Stereophonics or a pint?” she asked, sadly shaking her head. “Well… they kind of go together,” he replied, forlorn.
Stereophonics | Castle Esplanade, Edinburgh | Rating ***
That’s the appeal of the Welsh quintet in a nutshell. Whether it’s a lairily titanic rocker like Bartender and the Thief or a mournful, misty-eyed ballad like Maybe Tomorrow, they’re expert players of pint-drinkin’ music.
They’re still highly successful at it too, being one of those rare bands to earn two Castle concert dates at once, and with last year’s ninth album Keep the Village Alive their sixth to go to number one.
It will have been 20 years ago next year that they signed their record deal in Edinburgh, and they appear spectacularly unaged; particularly singer Kelley Jones, 42, leather-jacketed and still possessed of eyebrows like streaks of black lightning, who roars his way through their most anthemic songs, including A Thousand Trees, Vegas Two Times and Pick a Part That’s New.
The two hour set overflows with catchily recognisable chart hits, although not all are memorable – the undercooked Mr and Mrs Smith or the flaccid moan Mr Writer, for example.
But their blokey simplicity has evolved a certain texture and depth over the years, for example the rich blues treatment of Been Caught Stealing, the string accompaniment to Indian Summer and Jones’ typically wistful reading of Handbags & Gladrags.
“Thanks for recording my song,” Jones remembers its composer Mike d’Abo telling him. “I was putting in a new patio, now I can afford a conservatory.”
Pint-drinkin’, conservatory-buildin’ music at its finest, then.