It was with a real sense of excitement and anticipation that I set forth for Wales on a lovely sunny evening. The prospect of seeing one of Britain’s best-loved bands, in a more intimate venue than the cavernous arenas they normally frequent, was a mouth-watering prospect. As it turns out I was not to be disappointed.
I had not visited this venue before and was expecting a somewhat aged building along the lines of Manchester Apollo, only smaller. I’m not altogether sure if the modern looking, gymnasium feel, which we got was preferable, but it did afford my daughter and I an excellent standing view from about 10 rows back from the stage.
Firstly a word for the support band: Sound Of Guns apparently hail from Liverpool and recently released their second album, although it pains me to admit I had never heard of them. However, they certainly won me over as they were very entertaining. They had a good rocky feel, some excellent tunes and a strong vocal from their front-man (who I initially mistook for that guy out of The View). For a support act they went down well with the crowd and are definitely worthy of closer inspection.
This run of smaller shows is presumably to Stereophonics on top notch ready for their appearance in Hyde Park to mark the opening of the Olympics. Considering it’s been a while since their last live outing the band could be forgiven if they were a little rusty. So, what a rapturous crowd was actually treated to was an unexpected bonus.
Granted, the 22 song, 1hr 35min set concentrated mainly on the hits. But it reinforced what a truly great live band they are. These guys can rock with the best of them and they brought tremendous energy to the likes of Vegas Two Times, Bartender and Devil, whilst tonight’s rendition of Superman was just stunning. After the key moment 6 songs in, where Kelly Jones finally dispensed with the sunglasses (cue fainting daughter), there followed rousing renditions of crowd pleasers such as Maybe Tomorrow, Just Looking and Pick A Part that’s New.
The band left the stage briefly after Local Boy In The Photograph, before returning to close out the show with a run of 5 songs that included all-too brief renditions of Have A Nice Day and Handbags – delivered beautifully, but to me their brevity came across almost as embarrassment that these songs are so popular. The final number was a magnificent Dakota and was a fitting end to what was a really terrific show and one that I felt privileged to have witnessed.