Music review: Stereophonics, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones was in reflective mood for the band’s Edinburgh show, writes David Pollock

Stereophonics, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****

Stereophonics singer Kelly Jones has only good memories of Edinburgh. Back on New Year’s Eve in 1996, the night when Princes Street infamously became too crowded, they played their first city outside of Wales.

“It felt like we were really abroad,” he told his crowd here. This current trip has brought a new special memory, however.

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“I woke up in the hotel and ordered toast and Weetabix this morning. The fella brought it and there was no butter, no bowl and no f****** spoon! I don't know if that's a tradition here.”

It’s in these gaps between the constant slew of hits where the audience glimpses the current internal life of Stereophonics, a beefed-up six-piece compared to the slim, noisy trio they were to begin with. In line with the look-back to their 2001 third album JEEP (Just Enough Education to Perform) – performed in its entirety over the first half of the set – this gig saw Jones in reflective mood.

From JEEP, Step On My Old Size Nines had a wistful spoken word intro about a couple slow-dancing and Have a Nice Day saw Jones looking back to writing the song in San Francisco. The “big drinking culture in South Wales”, he said, contributed to their hard-partying ways in the early days, before singing of small-town life with Nice to Be Out.

Maybe saw Jones thinking back to the Japanese journalist who asked “what are you running away from?” with reference to all the mentions of flight on JEEP. “Songs come from deep within you, you don't even catch up with what they mean until years later,” he ponders now. “Musicians are miserable bastards, the only time we feel whole is when we're writing and recording songs.”

It’s something he’s done remarkably well, as demonstrated by a second set which took in songs from across their career, from the beery pining of Just Looking, Maybe Tomorrow and Hurry Up and Wait, to their biggest hit Dakota and current rocker Hanging On Your Hinges.

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