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#220 Stereophonics @ Dublin Olympia Theatre (March 9th 2013)

Support: Gareth Dunlop

The Stereophonics have this week released their first album in four years. Not a particularly long gap for a band now in their third decade but it is something of a departure for the group previously stuck on a two year album / tour schedule since their 1997 debut. In truth they needed to take a break, as after a creative high in 2005 with Language. Sex. Violence. Other? it appeared from the outside that they had taken a backwards step. Although the Pull the Pin and Keep Calm and Carry On albums were both enjoyable the band didn’t appear to be stretching themselves to any extent and so it is great to have them back with a, thankfully, great new album, Graffiti on the Train. Itis a real return to form and tonight we get to hear all ten tracks.

Stereophonics - Dublin Olympia Theatre March 9th 2013

This is all about trying out the new album but I sense it’s also a way for the band to get back on the road without the pressure an arena tour can bring. Theatre gigs, especially theatres gigs in venues as great as the Olympia, can see bands become reinvigorated. Here the atmosphere and love for the band in the crowd was evident from the off. Starting with Bartender, Thousand Trees and Superman was a no lose way to begin and it wasn’t until the fourth track that the first of the new songs was played (the new songs were noticeable for the video backdrop which appeared for them all throughout the gig). The album title track and Indian Summer were both well received as was personal album favourite, Take Mwhich included (as it does on the album) Kelly’s girlfriend Jakki Healy helping on vocal duties. The rest of the gig followed a similar pattern with a total of twenty songs aired of which half were from the new album. Now I have listened to the LP nonstop this week and love it but I suspect many in the crowd only knew the few they had heard on the radio and so there were moments during the gig when the atmosphere dropped a little. However the set was well paced enough to always have a Stereophonics fav not too far away and sure enough Mr Writer, Same Sized Feet, Just Looking and, main set closer, Local Boy In The Photograph were all magnificent with a soulful Been Caught Cheating and slow building Violins and Tambourines amongst the standout new tracks sandwiched between.

It is the encore though that reminds me why I love this band so much. Traffic is sublime with the Olympia lit up in its full glory. Newbie Roll The Dice is next and then the band’s finest moment, Dakota closes the show. A communal feeling of happiness spreads throughout the theatre and with that the near two hour show is complete. I then did what any self-respecting, approaching middle aged, bloke would do...I went and spent far too much on the merchandise stall however in my defence, for a geek like myself, two ten inch etched vinyl discs are effectively soft porn.

When the band come back later in the year I suspect we will hear only half the new songs played. That’s to be expected and I’m sure the band will gauge the reaction to each of the new songs as they carry on road testing the record. I’m delighted they are back. I’m delighted they have overcome the events of the last four years and I’m delighted they are still producing quality new material some 21 years (thank you Wikipedia) after forming in 1992.

After dumping the merchandise in the car I was then forced by my wife to attend a place playing shitty dance music filled with annoying drunk people all much younger than my tender 39 years and 3 months bumping into me looking at me wondering why the fuck I was there…and I had to pay €10 for the privilege. I believe they call them Night Clubs but I can’t be sure because I could hear fuck all.

The Stereophonics were great though.

Ticket: March 9th 2013

Ticket Price: €44.05

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