Review: Stereophonics @ Life Centre, KL, 28.4.10

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I’m adding a new type of blog post: Reviews. I think this is a good idea seeing as people tell me I’m opinionated — which I am — and this will kind of be a way to formalise some of those opinions. Let’s crack on Shall we?

On monday, Kelly rang me from work asking if I’d like to see Stereophonics on Wednesday night. I’d heard of Stereophonics, but never heard their music. Whenever I hear the name it reminds me of Stereolab, a band I love, but a modern version. Immediately I thought they might sound like The Presets (link goes to Wikipedia, because the Presets website is advertising sunglasses to buy, and nothing about the music. Balls.), but in reality Stereophonics are nothing like that.

A wiser man than myself once told me Stereophonics are MOR (middle of the road) rock n roll. And they are. Think Triple M, and the soundtrack to the latest teen blockbuster. Not really my style. However, seeing as we’re in KL and live bands are few and far between, we decided we should go. Helping this decision was the offer of being on the VIP list, and getting free drinks all night.


Cool, right? Wrong.
We arrived maybe ten minutes before the band took the stage, and upstairs in the VIP area the bar had run out of beer. I’ll repeat that: the bar had run out of beer. They did however, have a good view of the stage from the upper levels, but it was so full of VIPs that we couldn’t see anything. We went back downstairs and paid for two Carlsbergs. In cans.

As far as knowing the material, I had downloaded the latest album and the greatest hits to get up to speed. The latest album actually wasn’t bad, with a handful of really catchy songs. The greatest hits, was half-full of 90s-era-sounding crap, fuzz-driven songs. I only made it through to song three before switching back to the latest album.

Kelly and I probably ran through the albums half a dozen times, and I was glad we did. Because it meant that we knew four or five songs and could enjoy those. The rest were of no use to us. I mean, it would’ve been great for a Stereophonics fan, but not for us.

Musically the band was very tight. You could tell they were seasoned professionals. The singer’s voice was nothing short of amazing. Kelly even remarked they sounded very much like a recording! I was extremely impressed with the voice, but not so much with the other members, as it appeared they weren’t playing anything too difficult. However, I’m not guitarist, so I could be proven wrong on that. They played simple songs, but played them well.

Due to the MOR nature of the music (and probably being unfamiliar with most of the material) I found myself imagining watching ISIS or Meshuggah for about 40% of the gig. Which was OK with me.

Stereophonics were on stage for the best part of 90 minutes, maybe longer, and then promptly said thanks and good evening. Now, those of you who know me know how much I despise fake encores. The are the times when a band ‘finishes’ their show without playing their most successful songs. I don’t know much about Stereophonics, but I know they didn’t play the first single of their new album “It’s alright”(?), or the most famous of all their tracks “Dakota”. This really shits me. Every fucking band does this nowadays. Just once, I’d love to see the crowd keep quiet, not cheer for ‘more’, and watch the band regretfully retake the stage to fulfil their musical obligation to the venue. That would make my day. Encores need to be earned, not given. The band should play their whole intended set, and then come out if there’s enough response. (I’m getting grumpy just writing this, but I’m glad it’s somewhat out of my system now).

So yah, they came out and played “It’s Alright” and “Dakota” and another track I didn’t know. And then we were free to go.

Grievances aside, we enjoyed being out to see a live band. It was a novelty we probably won’t get to experience that often in KL. Which is not all bad, ‘cos the amount of SMOKE in that place… I forgot how blessed we Melbournians are for having smoke free venues.

Highlight of the night? See the previous post.