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LIVE: STEREOPHONICS, Fremantle – 5 May, 2018

| 8 May 2018 | Reply

LIVE: STEREOPHONICS, Fremantle – 5 May, 2018
Fremantle Arts Centre, Western Australia – Saturday, 5 May, 2018
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Damien Crocker

A sellout crowd at The glorious Freo Arts Centre was knee deep in Welsh flags when the Taffy lads came to town celebrating twenty years of The Stereophonics’ recording career (they actually formed way back in 2002) and their tenth album, the inexplicably flown-under-the-radar Scream Above The Sounds.

Firmly warmed up by Brisvegas trio Halcyon Days and their energetic set of left centre rock, the crowd rose above a simmering discontent about the woefully inadequate bar area and the mile-long queues which never seemed to dissipate all night, and gave an enthusiastic welcome to Kelly and Richard Jones (no relation) and the lads as they took the stage at the relatively early (and very welcome) time of 8pm. Be it a 10pm curfew or an early flight out, it’s a refreshing change from a venue milking bar sales until midnight then complaining about the problems associated with alcohol consumption.

Performing in front of a massive backdrop of the new album cover’s wolf, with an excellent bold and striking light show, they opened with rousing new track Caught By The Wind in a flurry of lights and colour, tossed in C’est La Vie and debut album favourite A Thousand Trees, before Superman and another new track, Geronimo, the two guitarists trading licks on this scorcher. The latest album is a bit of a grower, but the songs come to life onstage, and feature choruses so instantaneous that most of the crowd were singing along whether they were familiar with the songs before tonight or not.

“Here’s a song… took fifteen minutes to write, and 15 years to explain,” Kelly says, before a red hot Mr Writer, and the crowd sing along with every word of it and follow-up Have A Nice Day’s pure, chirpy pop.

Jones is expansive and warm as he describes the origins of Graffiti On The Train, the song conjuring up sadness on a truly epic scale, I Wanna Get Lost With You sees Richard Jones dancing around the stage with drummer Jamie Morrison hits his groove hard on his high drum riser.

New track All In One Night is introduced as “a story song”, indicative of the change in Jones’ writing over the past two decades: where he was once focussed on small characters and their day-to-day he writes sprawling tales with a cinematic eye.

Maybe Tomorrow is, like the whole night, a crowd pleasure, its mellow groove prompting yet another singalong, then Morrison and long-time touring keyboard player Tony Kirkham join the others at front of stage for a short set-within-a-set which is part unplugged session, part intimate pub gig. I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio leads into another warmly humorous intro by Jones about how his cover of Handbags and Gladrags built its composer, Manfred Mann’s Mike D’Abo a conservatory, and the wonderful Step On My Old Size Nines, before the intensity is ramped up again for another old favourite, Bartender & the Thief.

“It’s all about the song in this band,” Kelly Jones declares, “thankyou for letting us do what we do.” Indian Summer, Sunny – with Jones starting on piano before guitar soloing the song out – and Just Looking lead into the slide towards the finish line: Nothing Precious At All is wonderful, Traffic balances the rock edge of the band with its folky storytelling heart, and their second-ever single, Local Boy In The Photograph, is greeted like an old friend by the packed house.

There are plenty of other songs Stereophonics could have played, but it’s highly unlikely anyone walked away wanting – the band’s catalogue is so rich and beloved that writing a set list must need the help of a PHD. Tonight’s show was a perfect balance of riff rock, heartwarming bonhomie, storytelling songs and party vibe, with every track, be they twenty year old favourites or recently released newies were rejoiced with a singalong.

The encore started with a story about Kelly unwittingly witnessing a blowjob in a hotel window, as well as stumbling upon lovers going at it in a public place in Brisbane, appropriately introducing the hotel affair song Mr & Mrs Smith, and their biggest hit, the doesn’t-sound-like-anything-else-they’ve-ever-done Dakota, closing out a wonderful night awash in electric pink and blue lighting and with voices raised. It’s a mighty, celebratory finish involving everyone from ardent fan to casual newcomers to the band, and meaning something special to each of them, and the Jones and Co end the night dead on ten pm with Big Rock Finish, reluctantly leaving the stage as cheers slowly – very slowly – die down.

Set List:
Caught by the Wind
C’est La Vie
A Thousand Trees
Mr. Writer
Have A Nice Day
Graffiti on the Train
I Wanna Get lost With You
All In One Night
Maybe Tomorrow
I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio
Handbags and Gladrags
Step On My Old Size Nines
Bartender & The Thief
Indian Summer
Just Looking
Nothing Precious at All
Local Boy In The Photograph

Mr and Mrs Smith

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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