“It feels like I’ve been sleeping for a year and then just kicked off where I left” frontman Kelly Jones explains to the crowd as he’s greeted with cheers, and what a wait it has been. 16 months in fact since our last live concert happened just before the pandemic kicked in, and similarly for Stereophonics (9) who had last taken the stage on their home turf at Cardiff Arena on 15th March 2020.
This evening they return for their first show back and it’s at Scarborough’s very own Open Air Theatre, which slowly fills up from the moment the gates open with a sold out and excitable crowd who have certainly been looking forward to this moment for some time.
It’s not the usual service for the Open Air Theatre, as extra precaution is taken to make sure the crowd are safe with the additional requirement of a passed Covid test document is required at the gates for entry. It stalls the theatre reaching its capacity quickly but fortunately the crowd are in good spirits, and the buskers are out taking advantage of the line, with one of them rewarded with over 160 bottles of unopened beers from the jolly Scarborough crowd!
Stereophonics have to wait an extra 15 minutes before taking to the stage to ensure all of their fans are inside, but what’s an extra 15 minutes after a 16 month wait right?
The band take the stage applauding the crowd back to the theme from warriors, they pick up their guitars (and drum sticks!) and just like that, service is as normal for the Welsh rockers as they throw us straight into the bouncy ‘C’est La Vie’ to kick things off on the front foot. They fire through the opener and straight into ‘I Wanna Get Lost With You’ which lights up the stage with beautiful colours bouncing from the disco ball. It’s the usual start to the show for Stereophonics with the opening two tracks, but to our surprise they throw ‘The Bartender And The Thief’ straight at us in the opening three songs and the crowd are bouncing and singing along with little encouragement needed.
With 28 years of music under their belt as a band, Stereophonics have little problem putting together an incredible setlist of over 20 songs, and there are still plenty missing that any other band would be proud of which speaks in volumes. With a diverse mix of tracks it keeps the crowd on their toes. From the bouncy rock tracks such as ‘A Thousand Trees’ and ‘Vegas Two Times’, to ballads like ‘Mr Writer’, ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, and their famous cover of Mike d’Abo’s ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ not a moment passes where the crowd gets bored.
It’s the perfect release from isolation and jump back into somewhat normality for the sold-out crowd and even the band themselves, with Kelly Jones himself admitting he’s just “glad to finally get out of the house”. He jokes “I mean I love my kids but this is a great crack ain’t it!?” and he’s certainly not wrong.
It’s a smooth sailing show for Stereophonics and it’s as though they were only playing yesterday. The frontmans vocals are on point, not a note is missed from the band and they sound as tight as ever, even drummer Jamie Morrison got to pound out his drum solo to close out the fan favourite ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’ with a beaming grin on his face.
The 1hr 45 minute set comes to a close with an encore of ‘Just Looking’ and their superhit ‘Dakota’ leaving us feeling rather emotional singing along with the 8,000 fans in the theatre. It feels incredible to be back at live events sharing these moments with music fans, and Stereophonics couldn’t have put on much of a better show to mark the return of music as we know and love it!
(PLEASE DO NOT CROP OR EDIT PHOTOS)
Photo Credit: © Danny Peart Photography 2021