Stereophonics @ O2 Academy Oxford – 06/07/11

The evening started with a solid performance by local band Little Fish. Due to the enormity of the Stereophonics’ drum set up, they were sans drummer, but still delivered. Unfortunately the performance felt a little bit lost on the crowd as Little Fish were only called upon at 2pm that day to perform and everyone there was seemingly there for one reason and one reason only. None the less I thought they were awesome, with a good combination of vocals, keys and some harmonica thrown in for good measure.

It has been 10 years since Stereophonics played at The Zodiac (now the O2 for your whiper snappers) in Oxford, and what a triumphant return it was. A packed out venue of 30 somethings and a generation who have grown up following the band proved that you don’t need to be a scruff pot with painted fingernails to rock out hard! Starting with some upbeat, fast and energetic tunes with foot-on-the-monitor style shredding, it was clear that what I was about to witness what this band does best. You cannot help but be blown away by Kelly’s fierce and distinctive vocals. About 15 minutes in the classics started rolling out with hits such as ‘1000 Trees’, ‘The Bartender And The Thief’, ‘Mr. Writer’ and ‘Have A Nice Day’. As things progressed, I found myself more and more captivated and hoping for another classic, needless to say I was not disappointed.

I was instantly transported back to my teenage years; struggling with an unfair social hierarchy, sexual politics and those important questions such as “what kind of skate shoes are the most efficient for executing a kick flip?” It was epitomised for me by them playing ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’ and ‘Same Sized Feet’ from their debut album Word Gets Around (one of the first albums I ever owned).

I was truly impressed with the quality, enthusiasm and overall execution of tracks displayed by this band. They have been crafting their art for a long time now and it is clear that they have it mastered. You know that you have been to a good gig when you can feel the wind on the back of your neck from the person behind you from clapping so hard, I should have brought a scarf! If you ever get a chance to go and see Stereophonics, take my word for it, you will have a great time even if it is not your cup of tea. With a new album due for realise soon, I look forward to seeing a new and exciting direction from this already iconic band.