A warm summers evening at Cardiff City Stadium was the ideal scenario for fans to turn out in their thousands and one of Wales greatest bands of the last two decades.
Twenty years on from their debut, Word Gets Around, The Stereophonics are still raising the bar with new sounds and musical diversity with their latest release, Scream Above the Sounds. Of course, none of that counts at all if a band can’t recognise and celebrate its own journey and progression. That’s exactly what the ‘Phonics concert did, cherry-picking greatest hits and album selections from their twenty years back-catalogue while thousands of fans looked on enjoying the performance with cocktails!
The concert kicked off in fine style as Kelly Jones, Richard Jones, Adam Zindani and Jamie Morrison took to the stage and launched into 2015’s upbeat rocker C’est La Vie. Masintaining energy and quality in a live environment, The ‘Phonics launched their sound into the Cardiff evening air with classics I Wanna Get Lost with You, All in One Night and Roll Up and Shine which was dedicated by Kelly Jones to a member of the audience, Cian, the son of the bands original drummer, the late Stuart Cable.
Those of us who cherish memories of The ‘Phonics forming part of our life soundtrack to the latter days of the 1990s were reminded of exactly how long ago that was when Kelly introduced the ever-popular, Have a Nice Day. “I wrote this in San Francisco 19 years ago” he told the audience, “Doesn’t time fly?” It does, but as the crowd’s lifted to join in with the chorus, the years rolled away!
The pace changed as the band seated themselves on the edge of the walkway from the stage area to perform a magical acoustic set. Sitting on chairs placed by two lounge lamps, it was almost as if the band, accompanied by Gavin Fitzjohn on saxophone and trumpet., were creating an intimate session in their own front room. Except this session was to be shared with the entire stadium. The acoustic set featured memorable renditions of I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio, and Mike D’Abo’s Handbags and Gladrags, a song full of sentiment and meaning that never loses its magic when performed live
Kelly Jones also took to the piano for a rocking rendition of Sunny, from Keep the Village Alive, which for me was a personal highlight of the evening as it really appeared to demonstrate the band at their musical best for both sound clarity and performance.
The classics also kept coming, Dakota, Mr Writer, The Bartender and The Thief, as well as the anthemic A Thousand Trees.
As the evening drew to a close, the sound of the Stereophonics led by Kelly Jones vocals could still be heard echoing into the Cardiff skyline from outside the stadium. Heavenly music indeed!