Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Tue 6 Mar
Support act Ten Tonnes returns to Cardiff after supporting Ratboy last month at Tramshed, and does a solid job of warming up this much bigger venue. Other than the Stereophonics themselves, he’s the only act on the bill, with the meat of the night belonging to a sprawling 27-song setlist from the Welsh rock quartet.
Given that latest album Scream Above The Sounds is their 10th studio effort over two-and-a-half decades, such a monster concert length is perhaps understandable, even necessary. For perspective, here are some things that didn’t exist yet when Kelly Jones and the original valleys boys were playing their first gig together 20 miles down the road in Cwmaman: text messages, the euro, Harry Potter, the Britpop era, and the Motorpoint Arena. I’m sure the quartet are especially grateful for the latter two, as they’ve managed to sell out their Cardiff tour date on two consecutive nights with their hefty strains of alternative indie rock.
The live song choices are a considered balance of old and new. Chances Are and Caught By The Wind are a solid double barrel opener straight from the new LP, and set the precedent with wailing guitars and tempered flamboyance. The stage visuals likewise impress from the start and stay strong throughout, veering from nostalgic archive footage of the band in their younger days to bright retro colours during I Wanna Get Lost With You. Methyr Tydfil even makes a cameo appearance in video form.
Maybe it’s just good lighting, but the real-life Kelly Jones barely seems to have aged compared to his vintage doppleganger. He’s certainly in top form tonight, with vocals that roar on the anthems like Dakota and hold their crisp rasp on the stripped-back acoustic interlude. The rest of the band stay out of the limelight both figuratively and literally, save for the odd breakout solo – Jamie Morrison’s encore drum routine is a short but joyful highlight.
The effort put into giving almost every song a unique visual character makes the arena show a delightful live spectacle, elevating the whole concert without ever intruding on the musical experience. There’s not a pyrotechnic or confetti cannon in sight, just stylish, serious rock music. I can’t wait to see what they have planned for their summer show at Cardiff stadium – if tonight is anything to go by, the Cwmaman boys are definitely back in town.
words JASPER WILKINS photos MORGAN DEVINE