Since 2001 The Forestry Commission have put on a series of outdoor concerts at various different woods and forests over the UK as part of their Forest Live events and since its formation over 1.5 million people have attended a Forest live gig which is outstanding as the money generated from the ticket sales goes back into looking after and maintaining the forests which will help people enjoy the UK forests for generations.
Every year the Forest Live series has a diverse selection of musicians playing and this year was no different with the likes of Foals, Hacienda Classical, Jack Savoretti, Jess Glynne, Paul Weller, Stereophonics and Tears For Fears signing up for various forest live shows across the nation with Stereophonics, Paul Weller, Hacienda Classical and Jack Savoretti all playing my local forest venue at the beautiful Westonbirt Arboretum.
Tonight I headed down to the Arboretum to the opening show of the Forest Live concerts to see the mighty Stereophonics play a sold out show at the venue, the show went on sale back on the 18th January and sold out within minutes and it’s easy to see why as the band are one of the hottest bands to come out of Wales who have 10 studio albums to their name and have been in the music industry for an impressive 22 years which has seen them over time build up from starting off playing the toilet sized venues across the country to working their way up to selling out arenas, stadiums and also headlining major festivals across the UK.
Days leading up to the concert the British summer was nowhere to be seen like last year where we had weeks of glorious sunshine, instead there had been constant downpours in the area and on the day of the concert the weather report was showing more rain incoming however that didn’t put anyone off coming tonight because as way before the gates to the arena opened at 6pm there were massive queues of eager fans waiting patiently for the gates to open dressed prepared for a night of unsettled weather with the majority of people dressed head to toe in water proof clothing and wellies to help walk in the potential mud they were about to encounter.
The one and only support act tonight were The Wind And The Wave, an American duo consisting of Patricia Lynn and Dwight Baker, they took to the stage at 7.35pm and did a good job of opening the show tonight in an laid back acoustic way with 'Its A Longer Road To California Than I Thought' and 'Grand Canyon' being hightlights from their set.
Minutes before The Stereophonics took to the stage at 8.45pm the heavy downpours started but the crowd weren’t phased by this as the majority were dressed ready for the weather and the ones who weren’t were minutes away from seeing their musical idols take to the stage, The Stereophonics stormed the stage and Kelly Jones wasted no time heading out into the rain as he strutted his way down the huge stage platform leading out into the crowd as the band smashed their way through the ever so infectious ‘C’est La Vie’ which perfectly opened the set and easily made the crowd forget about the current downpour.
The earlier part of the set was full of material from the last couple of Stereophonics albums ‘Keep The Village Alive’ and ‘Scream Above The Sounds’ with the likes of ‘I Wanna Get Lost With You’, ‘All In One Night’, ‘Geronimo’ being played early on but keeping true to the festival setting of tonight’s show they also played the odd classic early on with ‘Have A Nice Day’, ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ and the sleepy ‘Handbags And Gladrags’ going down well with the crowd as the band relocated to the end of the stage platform to give a more intimate experience.
As the show progressed Kelly Jones had a lot of time for the crowd and really enjoyed interacting with the crowd, the majority of the time he joked about the weather which at one point saw him introduce the song ‘Sunny’ by saying ironically this ones called ‘Sunny’ as light rained continued to come down.
Towards the later part of the set The Stereophonics invited the support band The Wind And The Wave back on stage for a cover of Stevie Nicks ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ and it was an absolute pleasure to hear as the duel vocals from Kelly Jones and Patricia Lynn worked so well together.
The main set came to a close with a trio of classics with ‘A Thousand Trees’, ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’ and ‘The Bartender And The Thief’ taking Westonbirt Arboretum by storm with the crowd in their absolute element singing and dancing along to these classic brit pop songs.
After a short break the band returned to the stage for their encore which consisted of the laid back ‘Mr And Mrs Smith’ and upbeat regular set closer ‘Dakota’ which saw the crowd giving it all one last time in such a big energetic way.
Overall tonight was a fantastic night of entertainment, The Stereophonics were on top form and they came and delivered and despite the poor weather you can guarantee the thousands of people in attendance at tonight’s sold out show walked away smiling from ear to ear after witnessing a solid two hour performance from The Stereophonics..
The Wind And The Wave 3.5/5
The Stereophonics 5/5
Review By Trigger