Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stereophonics: 03-01-1999 Hippodrome

The Stereophonics released two of the best albums in the late 1990s. Word Gets Around and Performance And Cocktails earned well-deserved critical and popular acclaim. In fact, the latter album is one of my favorite releases from the past twenty years.

I hadn’t heard of Stereophonics until my friends in Boston dragged me to a small club called The Paradise to see them play in October of 1999. They blew the roof off the place, playing tunes from both of their first two releases. I was converted right there in the club, and I found out later that they were much bigger in the UK than they were here in the States at the time. Kelly Jones’ killer voice, the amazing songs and the full-on rock assault of the band made me wonder how they weren’t huge here too.

The band’s third record, Just Enough Education To Perform, was solid but not as consistently amazing as their first two full lengths. It had some great tunes on it though – “Vegas Two Times,” “Watch Them Fly Sundays,” and “Rooftop” stand with the best of their material. Not long after the release of the record, Kelly Jones embarked on an acoustic tour in the US and I caught one of the shows at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. It was great, however, some of the choices of cover songs and something I felt in Jones’ attitude on stage should have indicated to me what was about to happen to the band.

Stereophonics’ next two releases were major steps down in terms of what I hoped for in songwriting quality. Both records did very well commercially and the band has become significantly more popular in the State than they were back in ’99. I just think they’ve lost the plot. Jones got caught up in being a rock star and lost his edge (note the early career photo below followed by a more recent photo). It’s not uncommon, and I don’t begrudge the band anything. After all, they still made two and a half fantastic records. And some of the songs on the latest two releases are just fine. I suppose I expected more from them, or maybe I just wasn’t willing to let the band change over time. Whatever.

Though Stereophonics released a live album this year (Live From Dakota), I thought I’d post a sample of their live show from the year that I got hooked. This set was broadcast on BBC Radio 1 from the band’s show on 03-01-1999 at the Hippodrome in London. I doubt it’s the full set, because I’ve seen other sets from their headlining gigs at the time that consisted of closer to 20 songs. The sound quality and performance here are fantastic, though, so I hope you enjoy it.

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Stereophonics: 03-01-1999 Hippodrome

Roll Up And Shine
Local Boy In A Photograph
Hurry Up And Wait
I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio
Just Looking
Plastic California
She Takes Her Clothes Off
The Bartender And The Thief
Is Yesterday, Tomorrow, Today?
Pick A Part That’s New
Looks Like Chaplin
Buy Stereophonics’ music. Also, the band just released a DVD companion to their 2005 release, Sex, Language, Violence, Other?.



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