Stereophonics at Plymouth Pavilions, a preview
Just four days after Kasabian rocked up at Plymouth Pavilions for an intimate taster show, the mighty Stereophonics will be rolling up as part of their whistle stop tour of smaller UK venues to road-test their brand new album Graffiti On The Train.
The show is completely sold out.
It’s a while since we’ve heard anything from the Welsh Britpop band, whose hook laden punchy pop-rock has always met with a ‘mixed’ reception from the British music media.
Having already released seven albums, five of which were chart-toppers, Decade in the Sun their ‘best of’, released in 2010, shifted over one million copies and reached No 2 in the process.
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“Decade in the Sun, gave us the confidence to realise that the band’s name was out there and our catalogue was strong,” said main man Kelly Jones.
“We’d toured every year for 16 years, always in a rush to record an album and get back out there, so as not to let the band slip down the ladder, but I wanted to find new ways of writing.”
Eight albums in, he says he didn’t want to make just ‘another Stereophonics record’ and that anyway at 38 it’s hard to dig deeper. So instead of doing the usual rounds of festival headliners, they took a year out to see what would happen.
What has always marked Kelly’s song-writing out from that of his contemporaries is his ability to tell a good yarn. Back in the early 90s, when the band first paid a visit to the Pavilions brandishing debut offerings Word Gets Around and Performance and Cocktails their songs were chock full of stories and vignettes; Local Boy in the Photograph, More Life in a Tramps Vest, A Thousand Trees and the Bartender and the Thief, every song told a story.
Given that Kelly had studied Film at college and had always wanted to combine visuals with music, it was probably only a matter of time before he gravitated to film scores and scripts…
What fired the initial idea of writing a film script was discovering a couple of young lads clambouring over his roof, not trying to break in but attempting to get to the railway tack to graffiti the train. The event sparked a number of ideas which he developed with a script writer as well as coming up with a load of songs.
“Because I was writing a screenplay at the same time, the music became more widescreen and dramatic,” he said.
“I found myself walking into a studio with 40 unfinished ideas rather than 10 finished ones and by doing that the songs became way more unpredictable. But I loved the way I’d write one line in a song and think, that could go in the screen play.”
As usual, with Stereophonics albums, the reviews varied dramatically. NME says ‘there’s little here to get excited about’, but Uncut raves that ‘Kelly has upped his game’ and many agree that this is the band’s strongest offering to date.
As for Kelly, he says he’s not particularly bothered: “I don’t care if the album succeeds or fails,” he says, “But it’s certainly the most comfortable I’ve ever felt with something.”
The fact is that the fans seem to have reacted favourably. It reached No 3 on release a couple of weeks ago, which is not bad going after 20 years. Few bands would be unhappy with that.