Stereophonics – Live Review – Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Stereophonics at Scarborough OAT 1

By Steve Crabtree, July 2021

There’s no mistake. We smelt that smell. 492 days after the very first UK covid lockdown, Scarborough OAT opened its doors to Stereophonics. And live music was about to begin again.

As we all know, normality has been a long time coming. But could there be a much better way to celebrate its return? My favourite music venue, and a top band, renowned for amazing live shows.

We were back on the east coast of Yorkshire, and so were many others. So much so, there were queues to get into this one. Long queues that ran down the road, and alongside the beach. I’ve never seen them quite like this at the Open Air Theatre before, and they could only have been this lengthy as a result of the safe, careful entry system. With 8,000 people itching to get in, the gig was put back by 15 minutes to accommodate everyone. Safety first. No problem.

But we were there. Everyone looked glad to be there. A few ‘this is surreal’ kind of faces, but such a fantastic atmosphere. One I’d really missed, and one I’d been longing for, for well over a year.

Enough of me creating drama though. It was 8:45pm, and Stereophonics took to the stage to gargantuan cheers and the hugest applause. We were happy, they looked happy, they took their places, gave each other a nod and launched into ‘C’est La Vie’. With that, we were straight back in the swing of being back at a gig.

Stereophonics at Scarborough OAT 2

“Rocked from the off”

It’d been exactly 500 days since Stereophonics played their last gig, but they were far from rusty. In a 23 song set, they were very on-form. ‘Geronimo’ sounded superb, and ‘Have A Nice Day’ sounded beautiful. ‘The Bartender And The Thief’ was thrown at us early on, and Scarborough was alive. Anyone who felt apprehensive about the large crowds (as I did for a short while as we parked up) soon seemed to see their worries diminish a little bit.

‘Handbags and Gladrags’, ‘Local Boy in the Photograph’, and ‘A Thousand Trees’ were obvious highlights. Crowd favourites that everyone responded to, but then again we were responding all night.

The Welshmen rocked from the off. I loved coming here to see them in 2018 and I think this show perhaps had the edge on that one.

Stereophonics at Scarborough OAT 2

“Raucous and brash energy”

As always at the OAT, when it started getting dark, the lights took hold and the atmosphere cranked up a notch. ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’, ‘Don’t Let The Devil’ and ‘Fly Like An Eagle’ stirred all of us up. The performance ‘Phonics had put on tonight was remarkable. A raucous and brash energy came with them as usual, with Kelly Jones’ unmistakable vocals piercing the Scarborough (open) air beautifully.

Their encore was perfect too. ‘Just Looking’ was up first, (much to everyone’s delight) and ‘Dakota’ rounded off a brilliant evening. A perfect way to end a perfect return to live music.

Scarborough Open Air Theatre had given us something we’ve all missed. The crowd, the band, and everyone working in the venue were in fantastic spirits. With Phonics reminding us that they’re still one of the best and coolest live bands around.

Roll on more live gigs…

Images: Cuffe & Taylor


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