Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Sat 9 June
Oh, Cardiff’s going to get messy tonight. Judging by the mountains of empty alcohol containers left in the park as I approach the Cardiff City Stadium, host to tonight’s show, the crowd have spent the majority of the day celebrating the return to Cardiff of Cwmaman’s favourite sons, the Stereophonics. The crowd is vast and varied. There are people here who won’t attend another gig all year; hardcore Phonics fans; a guy who’s had too much beer, too much sun, wearing a Welsh rugby shirt that stopped covering his belly about 15 years ago; a dude who look like he was kicked out of Van Halen in 1983 and has been on the beach in California since. There’s also Stuart Pearce. Yes, England’s former captain is in attendance.
As I say, a varied bunch, such is the pull that Kelly Jones and co have these days. It’s a perfect summer’s evening as the boys modestly take to the stage: no fancy intros needed here. The band kick off with the traditional rock n’ roll leanings of C’est La Vie followed by Caught By The Wind, the opener from last year’s Scream Above The Sounds. Age defying frontman Kelly Jones attacks his signature cherry red SG guitar as the band take us right back with A Thousand Trees, before a moment of poignancy. Jones lets the Cardiff crowd know that the late Stuart Cable’s son is in attendance and seeing the legacy that his father left behind for the first time. A lovely moment, fittingly followed by More Life In A Tramp’s Vest.
A stomping version of Geronimo is rolled out complete with some sexy sax, before the entire band utilise the Axl Rose ego ramp – turning a stadium show into an intimate little club show, kind of. We are then treated to, amongst other things, their cover of Handbags And Gladrags. These are not the kind of sing-alongs usually associated with this stadium. The gentle retro vibes of Mr Writer kick off the second part of the set, which concludes with the crowdpleasing combo of Traffic, Local Boy In The Photograph and Bartender And The Thief.
It’s easy to forget just how many hits this band has had. Obviously not satisfied, the Cardiff crowd bay for more as is expected at gigs like this. The band reappear for the obligatory encore culminating with their biggest hit Dakota. There’s no airs and graces about these boys, and throughout their career they’ve managed to stay pretty well grounded. Cardiff City Stadium, Clwb Ifor Bach, it matters not to the Stereophonics: you are still going to get the same show and that’s why we love them.
words CHRIS ANDREWS photos MORGAN DEVINE