Just after the second song has finished, Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones addresses the crowd with a long heartfelt speech about the longevity of the band while reminiscing about how his career as a songwriter started in his bathroom. It’s been over two decades now since the band first emerged onto the scene and, even now, the quartet doesn’t look like they’ve aged one bit.
Having seen the band up close and personal at one of their rare club shows earlier in the year, now the Welsh rock heavyweights are back in familiar territory as Newcastle’s Utilita Arena joins a long list of packed out arenas making up this UK run. The stack of dates is in support of their latest, chart-topping album, Kind, and kicks off with frontman Jones racing down the ramp jutting out from the stage to belt out opener “C’Est La Vie.”
What follows essentially will define your view of the Stereophonics in general. In timeless fashion, the band belt out a twenty-two song set featuring some of their biggest hits to date. Hits like “Have A Nice Day” and “Local Boy In The Photograph” have been staples of the band’s set for years now. Hardcore fans flock here knowing what they’re going to get, Welsh flags are flown and the band deliver another flawless performance.
The big hits are all there, albeit in a different order, the show is big without being over the top and the musicianship is top quality. Could you level the criticism that it’s all a bit predictable and that, if you’ve seen one Stereophonics show, you’ve seen them all? Of course but the reason these fans keep packing out arenas and the reason why the band is still pulling in festival headline-sized crowds is that they give those fans exactly what they want.
A smattering of new songs fill out the massive, value-for-money set but, in all honesty, these fans are here to rock out to hits like “Dakota” and, while it may have been trotted out in predictable fashion, not one of these hardcore fans left the Arena feeling short-changed.