First, here is a little bit of truth. I lost my interest in the Stereophonics once they released Just Enough Education To Perform. The soccer mom approved single “Have A Nice Day” caused me to mark them off my list. I couldn’t even tell you a single song title off their 2003 release You Gotta Go There To Come Back, as I just didn’t care. So when I caught wind that their new album Language. Sex. Violence. Other? was actually good, I was quite a bit skeptical. When my most trusted in new music sources promised me that the album was quite a departure for the band, and popped the disc. Stereophonics are now living proof that a band can successfully change the direction of their career to pull themselves out of a generic music rut.
Last night at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom, the UK trio took stage shortly past 10pm. The crowd was a mixed bag of indie music fans, American Eagle sporting meat heads, and everything in between. Frontman Kelly Jones walked out in full rock & roll apparel, complete with sunglasses and a black leather jacket. The CBGBs shirt was a bit much, but his stylist gave him an adequate rock makeover. The group kicked off with a brilliant performance of “Superman”, which rocked even harder than the album version. With no break, they continued right into “Doorman”, pulling out all the stops on this live glam machine.
At this point, the audience members who were obviously there for the band’s less aggressive material off their previous few records seemed a little stunned. What happened to their modern-day Rod Stewart v2.0? Once Jones took his sunglasses and jacket off, the direction of their set shifted. The crowd erupted into a drunken bar sing-along when the band reached into their back catalog for “Just Lookin” and “Thousand Trees”. Fortunately for fans of the newer material, the rock steroids that helped juice up the band’s latest album leaked into their older tracks as well.
After last night’s show, Stereophonics proved to me that they still have plenty of life left in their career. They have found a way to bridge a gap between indie music snobs and upturned-collar music fans. That is a pretty difficult task to accomplish, but this music snob left the Bowery satisfied.