This is meat and potatoes. And jam. Stereophonics are tiptoeing through a melody so strong and sweet that even Celine Dion couldn’t fuck it up and then – BAM! – we’re smacked in the chops with an utterly rancid bout of groin-thrusting, gut-busting, bum-note-spattered, smelly old man METAL. This happens in the middle of every song and soon stops being funny. Hey Stereophonics! This is WRONG! Please STOP!
The uniformly T-shirted teenage crowd are depressingly and Blairishly unscary. And horribly grateful. Stereophonics look like the post-Richey Manics – New Labour casual. They barely move, hardly speak. You have to assume that most of the bonny wee lasses who stare up at the waxwork tableau with undisguised lust have only just jumped the ‘indie’ bandwagon. That Stereophonics have become a sort of pop training bra: the musical watershed between Cleopatra and Cradle Of Filth.
If so, then the fact that the ‘Phonics exhibit about as much charisma, onstage pizzazz and sheer rock’n’roll sex appeal as William Hague at his most irritatingly constipated must be considered a plus point. Meat and potatoes probably make a refreshing change after a nonstop diet of sherbert dips, bubble gum and sex-sprinkled knickerbocker glories.
Don’t take this the wrong way. We love Stereophonics. We really do. We love their acute provincial inferiority complex, their shit record collections, bad haircuts and wonderfully earnest slice-of-life lyrics. That’s REAL life we’re talking about here, mind. Not the poncy Camden variety. We like the fact that singer Kelly Jones is a gawd-blimey drop-dead sex dog with a roary blowtorch gob and the arse of an aerobicised Greek god.
But most of all we like the tunes. ‘The Bartender And The Thief’ and ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’! Hum them! Go on! You know you want to. These aren’t just tunes, these are tunes that you’ll love for ever and ever. These are tunes so good they could have been written by The Beautiful South. Or Crowded House. Or Wet Wet Wet.
Because that’s the horrible, sordid truth about Stereophonics. They’re a cool mum and dad band. They make the sort of ace-pop that appeals to 40-somethings who like a tune, a bit of passion and some clever words on the radio while they’re driving the kids home from school in the Space Wagon. Bit of Ocean Colour. Bit of All Saints. Bit of Manics. Bit of Weller. [I]Nice! [/I]
So where ARE all the slappos, gimmers and wrinkloids? Not here! Instead, Stereophonics seem to have attracted their teenage sons and daughters. No! This is WRONG! This isn’t rock’n’roll, you spotty mugs! This is quality pop for discerning adults, aka THE ENEMY! You should HATE Stereophonics! You shouldn’t even BE here. Hey, kids – two words – FUCKSAKEGETTA-FUGGIN’ GRIP!
Stereophonics’ much-treasured and jealously guarded ‘normality’ could pay massive dividends if they got the marketing right and attracted an audience that wanted to mother rather than fuck them. Gonna have to work hard on the live show though, lads. Phil Collins didn’t get where he was today by just standing there looking boring. So think on.