let your hair get caught in the wind
Stereophonics @ Opera House Concert Hall, Sydney NSW Australia 25/04/2018 written by Brendan Lewis.
Bags are packed, the car’s all fuelled up and the excitement is flowing for tonight'’s’ road trip with Welsh rock legends, Stereophonics! Tonight’s the night to let our hair down and let it get caught in the wind, with the windows down and music up, as we say C’est La Viehave a nice day to reality and drive down memory lane, speed down anthemic rock road and stumble down nostalgia lane, and all in one night! What’s our road trip playlist? Stereophonics’ new addictive album ‘Scream Above The Sounds’ of course, plus we’ll throw in some old favourites from the band I’m sure.
Here we go, geronimo!...
This roadtrip kicks off fast n’ furious, with ‘The Bartender And The Thief’ starting with a thumping drum initiation, followed by feel-good vibe driving ‘Caught By The Wind’. The band obviously revved their engines hard before taking off tonight, because this ride takes off full speed with no sign of slowing down! The bass is a little too domineering for the mix of sound (bloody V8’s) but otherwise quite well done, the enticing vocal melodies of the up-beat blues/rock vibe and high musical energy in ‘The Bartender And The Thief’ gets the audience super-charged straight away. Just like the feel-good euphoria one’s left with after an adrenaline-pumping holy-s*** take off, ‘Caught In The Wind’ does just that for the hype in the hall tonight. The bass is still too domineering for my liking, but lead singer Kelly’s powerful vocal drives draw the main focus nicely, like cranking up your favourite song on the car speakers to drown out that bloody V8 rumble.
Next up we drive through ‘C’est La Vie’, ‘I Wanna Get Lost With You’ and ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’. ‘C’est La Vie’ sustains the upbeat feel-good vibes with its’ major-key indie-rock sound, easy to dance to beat and powerful ripper vocals with a nice rocky edge to them. Now as if driving past a group of pretty ladies (or guys, whatever floats your boat) ‘I Wanna Get Lost With You’ brings the energy to a steady pulse, driving a sexy bass line, accentuated even more by a smooth saxophone/horns melodies and crisp sensual vocals. Now we’re taken down memory lane like driving past your old high school in ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’. This songs’ major-key tone and angsty teenage bite reminds me of high school…. Come on, we were all angsty teens. The steady beat in the songs’ pre-chorus entices the whole crowd to clap along to the beat like school kids egging on a school-yard fight. No teachers breaking up this fight, as the chorus explodes in energy after being egged-on by the crowd!
The next stretch of the musical road is ‘All In One Night’, ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ and ‘Superman’. “Oh f***! Speed camera up ahead! (foot on the breaks)” I’m sure you’ve all said it at least once, and that’s what it’s like for the music now in ‘All In One Night’. The tempo and feel of the music is slowed dramatically to a sensible mid-tempo, carrying a heavy-hearted tender emotion with it’s mellow minor-key tone, plus Kelly’s infectious vocal hooks which climax in an intense rock out from the band with smooth saxophone layers and crying out vocal hooks.
Lead singer Kelly starts ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ off on the acoustic guitar, and just like when someone in the car says something really deep and personal, the atmosphere in the hall gets more intimate, with the mellow minor-key tone and Kelly’s raspy outstanding vocals. Whether it’s this songs’ calming vibe, or Kelly really putting all his heart and sould into his vocals, or perhaps it’s the alluring saxophone layers, whatever it is, the audience have all taeken off their seat belts and scrapped their previous seated positions. This song is capped off with Kelly instigating the crowd to sing out the song while he ends it soft and slowly on the acoustic guitar.
“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Superman!”. ‘Superman’ brings an anthemic dance provoking rock essencse to the set, filled with its’ roaring electric guitar riffs, dual layer vocals which have been here and there in the set so far, adding nice harmonies, and catchy melody hooks.
The band now say ‘Geronimo’ to the lower energy as we drive through a darker crime-struck neighbourhood with ‘Graffiti On The Train’ and all with the passionate heat of an ‘Indian Summer’. ‘Geronimo’ brings a high energy thumping distorted bass line with vocals that bite and pull you in, with a flurry of saxophone and psychedelic guitar riffs. Kelly now refuels as he takes a second to chat to us, the audience, before the lights dim as we stare at the ‘Graffiti On The Train’ in horror. ‘Graffiti On The Train’ fills the atmosphere in the hall with a tense heavy weight of emotion, with it’s bursts of crying out vocal surges blasting over the dark weighted minor-key tone, and a burst-of-musical-tears in the aching saxophone solo in the songs’ bridge. Dry those tears, because the spine tingling feel-good rush of ‘Indian Summer’ accelerates the energy up nicely to a shining bright glow. In addition, this song includes attentionding drawing compleementing string layers like in ‘Graffiti On The Train’ (Oh did I forget to mention that in the last song? I must’ve been distracted by the vandalism).
This is seeming like quite a long road-trip, so what do you do on a nostalgic road trip? You play ‘I Spy’ like good ol’ times of course! Hmmm, I spy with my little blind eye, something beginning with… The dark climactic up-beat rock energy of ‘Roll The Dice’, the sexy country/blues-rock swagger of ‘Cheating’, the bum-wiggle enticing beat of ‘I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio’ a pitstop in the journey because there’s too much ‘Traffic’ on the road to deal with (the songs vibe is like taking a break to stretch your legs and rest)..,, the smokey jazz/blues-rock hazey dream state of mind of ‘Mr Write’ like your time at college, with its’ swirling piano riffs and organ skins (the song, not your time at college). Finally, just like the eye-widening ecstacy of stopping at the beach in your childhood town on a perfect sunny day, ‘A Thousand Trees’ fills the air with a buzzing hype of excitement capping the set off perfectly!
While we wait for the band to hurry up and finish paddling around at the beach and get on with the encore, I must mention that the crowd tonight is the rowdiest I’ve ever experienced at this classy venue, I mean, not a surprise, seeing as people kept walking past me to go fill up at the bar during the show. The rowdy roar in the hall is increased exceedingly when Kelly spoke to us between songs here and there, and when the band bust out a subtle yet effective 80’s-like groove on stage. If the hype for tomorrow nights’ show is going to be even greater than tonight being the first announced show and selling out fast, I’m steering clear of this place!
And we’re back…
The band return triumphantly for one last hurrah in ‘Mr And Mrs Smith’ then iconic smash hit, ‘Dekota’. ‘Mr And Mrs Smith’ gets the entire audience clapping along to the beat, and with the songs’ incredible show-off drum solo in larger-than-life energy, excelling towards the end, I’m filled with the feeling like pulling up in the driveway of your childhood home which is filled with so many happy memories…. Also, I meant “your” as in “one’s-childhood home” not actually yours as in, you reading this. Now here we go, Kelly thanks us one last time before starting ‘Daekota’ off slowlying on the acoustic guitar, teasing us, or rather building up the anticipation just like walking in slow motion to the front door, before turning the door knob and… With a burst of applause, the iconic synthesizer intro followed by the the nostalgic worldly melody, sends a massive rush of euphoric tingles through me, as I’m taken back to when I was a wee-lad of 11. The audience all become more rowdy in this song as one would imagine, and the perfect performance and insane musical energy is incredibly thrilling and a real treat!
What did you think of this trip? Thrilling? Captivating? Slower pace at times but not boring? Nostalgic? All in all one for the memory book and one you’d revisit next time the band come back? Yeah me too!