Stereophonics at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin on Saturday March 9th 2013

Wait tables for a crook? Write a hard back book? Teach kids how to read? … Or become a rock star? Thankfully, Kelly Jones chose the latter and twenty years on since the foundation of Stereophonics, the Welsh foursome (despite a few substitutions) are still going strong. Their 8th studio album, Graffiti On The Train,’ was released on March 1st in Ireland and was celebrated, in full may I add, on Saturday night.

Taking to the stage at exactly 9pm, ‘Phonics almost blew the roof off the Olympia with the brash boom of Bartender and the Thief kicking things off in style. Knowing the new record was still in its infancy in the minds and hearts of their fans, they started the set with a fluttering of older material. The powerful opener was quickly followed by fan favourite A Thousand Trees and the broody Superman.

A blistering start to a long awaited show – their first headliner in Dublin in over four years – though you’d swear they never left. They did make one mistake however.

Having adequately grabbed the attention of the audience with the opening trio, the band decided it was time to bring out new material. A foursome of brand spanking new songs was played, including the radio-friendly Indian Summer. As the opening bars of title track Graffiti On The Train were played, a screen lowered behind the band, upon which a movie of train tracks began to play. It was so simple yet  matched the mood of the song to perfection. There was a film of sorts for all four songs before the screen retracted to its position above the stage.

Classics Mr. Writer and Maybe Tomorrow went down a storm, with Jones’ vocals barely audible above the crooning crowd. Then the screen lowered again and therein lies their one and only mistake. The atmosphere in the back sections of the crowd transformed instantly. The knowledge that all new songs, songs which they weren’t familiar with yet, would be accompanied by a film led to groans and chatter each time the screen was lowered. Losing fans even for those brief moments can be vital.

However, for the more dedicated fans, the show continued to impress throughout. Kelly Jones isn’t known for his crowd interaction, but he did take the time to thank their Irish fans for their continued support over the last twenty years before playing “the song that started it all off”, Same Size Feet. This was quickly followed by the classic Just Looking which had everyone, even those in the cheap seats up the back, on their feet belting out the lyrics. They closed out the set with the ageless Local Boy In A Photograph and left the stage to wild cheers and raucuous applause.

Of course, that wasn’t all. To say the encore was worth the incredible ten second gap between the four band members leaving the stage and then returning is an understatement of epic proportions. The energetic combination of Traffic, Have A Nice Day and the cataclysmic Dakota left the sold out Olympia barely standing as the audience sang, clapped and jumped along.

They may not be releasing material of the same quality as a decade ago but Stereophonics are still undoubtedly one of the best live bands around and on the basis of Saturday night, they’ll retain that title for many years to come.

Steroephonics Photo Gallery

Photos: Kieran Frost