Posts Tagged ‘Stereophonics’

Meeting Superman.

May 14, 2010

“You don’t know what it’s been like meeting someone like you.”

—–

Of course I was nervous and excited at the same time. Days leading up to Stereophonics’ Malaysia concert, I was trying to appear cool that if ever I could not weave my way to their ‘secret’ press conference, I would be alright, even though I probably would not. And after knowing I have been granted access – double access, in fact, just in case – to meet them, it was pretty hard to keep calm and carry on. I mean, who am I kidding? They are Stereo-fucking-phonics!

So, I do apologise beforehand if this entry sounds a little too fangirlish. Just be thankful it wasn’t Damien Rice I was meeting.

In the span of my journey to Nikko Hotel, where the press conference was held, I smoked three cigarettes just to calm my nerves. Trying to pretend that meeting Kelly Jones  and co was not really a big deal. I made it just in time, and was still catching my breath as the escalator carried me to the second level. Lugged against my back was Vern‘s Takemine guitar, probably bigger than me; this is why I don’t play the guitar.

I expected the band to pull a diva card, being fashionably late and all, but there they were, huddled together behind a pillar talking to a camera. My heart started up triple its normal speed. There they were.

I was caught in a funny situation when I was heading into the ballroom for the press conference just as Stereophonics themselves were going in. I mean. Should I walk past them to go in, would that be impolite. Or should I let them go first, because you know, they are fucking rockstars. At the same time, trying hard not to go on overdrive for being just a breath away from them. Before Kelly Jones led the band in with their own improvised interlude, Javier Weyler caught my eye and smiled at me. I melted inside. Guh.

I did not speak much that afternoon for one reason: I was starstruck. And I am never good with making witty quickies to catch their attention like Reta – pro-rockstar stalker that she is, so for the better half of the press conference, I was pretty much quiet, snapping pictures, and sitting quietly chewing my gum, pretending to be listening to them, when really, nothing was registering in my head.

After calming myself down a bit, I decided maybe I should ask some not-so-silly questions. It is not everyday I would find myself in the same room with people whose CDs are lined amongst the collection I take pride in. I would probably regret not saying enough in later days. So, it was either stay shy and let this moment pass by, or just say something and risk sounding – well, stupid.

Half of the time, whilst my eyes were fixed on Jones, my head was bewildered, “oh my gawd, he’s looking right at me, answering my question. Wait, what was his answer again? Oh gawd, he’s looking at me.” It was such a fangirl moment, anyone would find it funny.

The photo session came afterwards, and of course, I managed to snap a shot with the band. Jones’ height proved true, as I slipped in between him and Weyler. He was merely a couple of inches taller than me. And everyone knows how short and tiny I am. Heh. I also remember Weyler’s arm leisurely placed on my shoulders as we looked at my camera and smiled. He is such a sweetie pie.

Before we media were shooed out of the room, I quickly took out the guitar and have the band sign it. Seeing the guitar, Jones asked if I play, but sadly and embarrassingly, I had to say no and that it belonged to a friend. Our conversation would have been more interesting if I do actually play. Would it be silly to start learning guitar just to have more meaningful conversations with my favourite musicians?

Richard Jones reached forward and ran his fingers down the strings on the neck and said, “Wow, these strings are well-worned.” Even for a non-musician, I thought it was some sort of a compliment.

I muttered to Jones something about Vern being an aspiring musician himself, and he was a little bummed he could not be there that day, and perhaps a little word of encouragement may help? So, he scribbled a quick “be lucky”, before signing his name.

The Takemine has been blessed by one of Brit rock’s bests.

So much so that after that, I could even strike up a tune of Bright Red Star. Not. Heh.

Some roundtable interviews followed. Unlike MTV World Stage last year, we had plenty of time to spare, journalists asked the quirkiest questions in regards to life back home in Welsh – recommendations on where to visit and when to visit, of Lolita Bootsy, Kelly’s baby girl, something about their albums, something about their concert later that night.

It was call time for the last question once again. The journalists have pretty much exhausted themselves with questions, so my hand shot up. And it was quite a cheap thrill for me, when the band got all excited that the quiet me in the group decided to ask the question – well, for me, at least.

“My favourite song is Bright Red Star,” I started.

“Ah, really?” Jones said. “Well, we play the song every night!” (Another mental giggly moment for me)

“I just wanna know: who is Mary in the song?”

There were some chuckles in the group, and Weyler got all mischievously shifty eyed, probably knowing some secret meaning behind the song.

“Mary is just someone I used to know. She’s sort of a girlfriend, but not really.”

“Was the song written to woo her?”

“Nah, it wasn’t really a song to woo her, but more about her. It’s a lot to do with phone calls. Those long distance ones. And you know how sometimes you get to know more of a person through the phone than in person. That’s kinda how it is with her, and that’s what the song is.”

And that concluded our intimate session with Stereophonics.

But not forgetting, of course, to shake each and every one of their hands, especially Jones’. Le sigh.

Listening to Pull the Pin on the way back, every other second, I could not believe I actually met Stereophonics in person just a few minutes ago. Years I have spent loving Jones’ raspy whiskey voice, and making favourites off almost every song off their albums, listening to a few favourites a little too often. It actually happened. It was surreal.

Probably the best fucking day of my life. 🙂

More about the Singapore concert HERE.

Language. Sex. Violence… And a missing slipper?

May 4, 2010

Event: Stereophonics live in concert
Date: April 30, 2010 (Friday)
Venue: Fort Canning Park, Singapore

A local DJ was on stage that evening, blasting through the speakers throngs of Britain’s best music. From a couple of numbers by Tears For Fear, who will be stopping by Singapore themselves not soon after, and the now disbanded Oasis. Everyone sang along, “Because maybe / You’re gonna be the one that saves me / And after all / You’re my wonderwall”, reminiscing the last time these Brit lads stopped by the country before they went their separate ways, while prepping for the other decade-old band who will be taking the stage very soon.

It was a good thing the concert was at Fort Canning Park. The ground is slanted the way an indoor stadium is built, so no matter where you stand, you will still be able to see the stage. So, it is quite a good thing for me who has height incompetence. The only beef for me, was the PDA couple standing in front of me at the beginning of the show. The guy’s entire head was blocking my view, and not only that, I only got to see the full view of Kelly Jones in between their constant kisses.

Mind you, I don’t have problems with PDA couples. You want to show the world you are in love, kissing and touching and hugging each other every other second, by all means. I wish you a happy marriage with lots of kids. But just. Don’t do it right in front of my face when I’m trying to enjoy the one good thing in my life for being single.

Half of the 5,000 strong crowd that night was made up of foreigners. Some from Wales themselves, like the band; one of them even bore the Welsh flag. But things got somewhat hooligan-ish for me sometimes, what with the beers being served and all. A fight almost broke out right in front of us too. And something more – offensive – which will be mentioned later on this entry.

Stereophonics opened the last show on their tour with lukewarm numbers of Live ‘n’ Love and A Thousand Trees, before taking things up a notch with I Got Your Number, Superman and Doorman.

Hidden in the dark at the side of the stage were more than 10 guitars propped upright like those selling in guitar stores. Throughout the show, Jones, Richard Jones and Adam Zindani would change guitar for every new song, practically more often than a hygienic nut would switch underwears.

But I would like to believe Jones’ true rockstar soul lie in the well-worned strings of his cherry red Gibson SG he has been known to perform with throughout his years of showmanship. Every time he positions the well-polished and lustful guitar on his right hip, he would churn out hair raising guitar solos in Superman, Doorman and Trouble that would make the most uptight person in the crowd headbang to the addictive beats.

Seeing that it was their Keep Calm and Carry On tour, Stereophonics hit quite a number of tracks from the album, including the only slow number that’s becoming a quick favourite for many – Could You Be The One? Paired up with that were older darlings: Maybe Tomorrow, Mr Writer (I thought I heard someone doing a solo number on the piano, or was it just a recording), The Bartender and The Thief, Have a Nice Day… and gasp, when did Javier Meyler go all shirtless at the back? Yum.

It was a shame though, that they did not perform much from Language. Sex. Violence. Other? and Pull the Pin, two of which I favour more over the rest. Stereophonics’ older albums were more languid, and perhaps that is how they flow since 1992, and that is how the fans like them. But it would have been a loud and insane show with Deadhead, Devil and Soldiers Make Good Targets thrown into the playlist. And it would have been sweet to hear It Means Nothing, Lolita and Stone live as well. Alas.

But. When the familiar introductory chords of Bright Red Star chimed through the speakers, and the stage lights went down to a deep sensual red, my heart soared. The moment I have been waiting for since Kelly Jones told me they play the song every night has arrived. It’s my favourite song.

However, it saddens me that Vern was right. For every few seconds that I could break myself from the crowd to pay close attention to Jones’ raspy and breaking voice that sang the lyrics oh so carefully, and Zindani’s bright and clear closing solo, I was immediately snapped back to earth. There were two guys behind me who suddenly seemed to be talking all too loudly in their Singaporean twanged English, and in front of me, another couple moving their heads in and out of my sight to say something to each other. I looked around me, and everyone was just.not.listening. Perhaps I am the only one in the world who likes Bright Red Star, when everyone else craves for Dakota or Mr Writer or Have a Nice Day. Meh.

Things took a turn towards the end when the band broke into the famous Local Boy in a Photograph. Everything was fine and dandy, when suddenly, someone from the crowd threw a slipper onstage and hit Jones square in the face. As the rest of the band continued playing, the lead stopped and moved away from the microphone. He then put down his guitar; he was not at all pleased.

Perhaps he was angry – he flew all the way from the UK to play one last show for us, and this is how we repay him? Perhaps he was embarrassed and hurt – decade-old rockstars or not, to get a slipper thrown at you (and hit your face, may I add), it’s just plain saying, “You suck. Get off the stage.”

Jones picked up the slipper, held back his emotions (I would like to believe), said good night to the crowd, and walked off the stage. R Jones, Zindani and Weyler followed suit.

Everyone was stunned. Some booed, some cursed. Some wondered was that it, was the show over just like that. Some checked their cameras to see if that priceless moment was caught in their frames or not. Later, as the security guards escorted the slipper culprit out of the concert venue, everyone booed at him as he passed by.

I just stood there. I felt bad for Kelly Jones.

Fortunately, Stereophonics came back on. (It would totally suck – especially for me, mind you – if that was really it). But something in the air shifted. Although Jones tried to keep calm and carry on (sorry, can’t resist it), thanking the crowd for coming out before delving into the encore of The Bartender and the Thief, not even trying to make sarcastic or comedic remarks on what just happened earlier. I am sure everyone in Fort Canning Park that night, including the band, knew it was just not the same anymore.

The concert came to a quick end with Dakota. The band trying their best to steer things right again for their last show of the tour. The fans jumping and singing along to Jones’ repetitive lines of “So take a look at me now / So take a look at me now / So take a look at me now”. Yet, nobody could help bring things to the kind of perfect ending we all hoped for.

Despite Stereophonics paying lesser attention to my favourite albums, people around me not being as civilised as I hope they would be, and the whole slipper incident, not to mention the fact that I have to fly all the way to Singapore just to see them two days later, I am still glad I caught them live. I could not help but smile every time. Hearing Jones’ whisky voice that I have heard so often I’ve made it one of the most distinguishable vocals I favour. Seeing him crunch out all those splendid guitar solos on his beloved cherry red Gibson.

I have made Kelly Jones one of my favourite vocalists for a long time now. To get to see him live that night, and not to mention meeting him in person, it is definitely something I would tell my grandkids about someday.