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Stereophonics
Sheffield Arena
November 29, 2001

Fuel Preservation is Key
by: peter naldrett - uk correspondent

In a way it was like stepping into a Stereophonic living room. Each guitarist had their own grandma-style patterned rug, there were loads of candles burning all over the stage and I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn there was incense and a few family photos up there, too. Not ones to live up to the rock ‘n’ roll stereotypes, there was no prancing around the stage and very little acknowledgement of the audience. In fact, the rugs may well have been there to mark territory because frontman Kelly Jones never ventured away from it.

But as low key and laid back as the Welsh stars may be, this tour has marked the ascendance of the Stereophonics to a high plain in the whole post-Britpop music scene. They’re pretty close to occupying the position that Oasis held when the ‘phonics were plugging their first single back in 1997. Much of the current hype that ensured the 2001 tour of UK arenas was a sellout is down to the critical success piled onto the new album, Just Enough Education To Perform, and they drew their best live material from this. On saying that, the best song of the night was the first.

"Mr Writer" started with a five minute instrumental as the band made their way on stage and the light show and giant TV behind them got into full swing. The packed crowd would have hung on every word that Jones said, but the truth is that he didn’t say all that much! Other that welcoming the Sheffield crowd, and thanking them for parting with their hard earned cash, he kept pretty much to himself. And that’s a pity, because when bands start simply to hammer out track after track it can lead to a dull night.

Stereophonics managed to avoid this up to a point as they knocked out all their well known hits. And so we had a cracking "Just Looking" a dubiously poor "Handbags and Gladrags" and "Have A Nice Day," which, to be fair, did merit some explanation of how it came about after a taxi ride in San Fransico ("We were driven around for 45 minutes with a taxi driver talking shit, and then he told use to have a nice day"). And an acoustic version of "Step On My Old Size Nines" was well received, but after that things started to drag on and the end of the 110 minute set was lacklustre, with an encore that was amongst the worst I’ve seen.

Like some of the candles on the stage, the Stereophonics burned themselves out far too early and unfortunately were victims of their own set list. Everybody could have left happier, but the Stereophonics snowball is only going to get bigger.
04-Dec-2001 11:00 PM