There’s a relentlessness about the Stereophonics both on stage and in their career. Now 26 years on from the point when singer and guitarist Kelley Jones, bassist Richard Jones and their original drummer, the late Stuart Cable, started playing together in their home town of Cwmaman, the current version of the band’s energy for what they do and the enthusiasm of their fans roars on unabated.
Stereophonics, Hydro, Glasgow ***
In efficient, professional fashion, the never entirely fashionable but always dependable Stereophonics have battered out ten albums, only one of which has landed outside the UK top ten.
This means they’ve built a back catalogue which allows them to largely fill a two-hour set with tracks which even casual fans will be familiar with, from the wistful Maybe Tomorrow to the catchy if lyrically slim More Life in a Tramp’s Vest and Mr Writer to a charged closing trio of their most emotive signature hits Local Boy in the Photograph, A Thousand Trees and The Bartender and the Thief (although the appearance of a chorus of Motorhead’s Ace of Spades amid the last may have been trying too hard).
With the Hydro apparently as full as it gets and the odd arena-scale trick employed – a breakout set on a satellite stage, stripped-back acoustic tracks from Kelley, the Spinal Tap-ish appearance of Scots drummer Jamie Morrison on a kit ascending from the ground during Mr and Mrs Smith – the real enjoyment came from the ebullient efficiency with which the now-quintet played and the enduring power in Jones’ blues-flavoured vocal.
After all this time there’s clearly a lot of nostalgia to their appeal but they bridge the gap between their glory days and the present better than most.