It was good to see the Stereophonics doing an arena tour again. Having played Academy-sized venues for the last few tours I was starting to fear they may be in decline, and they didn't have the pulling power of the arena-elite. Thankfully, I was just being a massive pessimist. As usual.
Whilst their last few albums haven't really grabbed my attention, I'm still a big fan of the band and I was delighted to see their first visit to Leeds Arena was a sell out. As it happened, the only part of the venue that wasn't bustling was the photopit - I was the ONLY photographer there. This was a luxury I wasn't accustomed to, and planned to take full advantage of it. As I was there well in advance of the show, I managed to speak with part of the entourage who kindly gave me a heads up on the stage plan for the first three songs. I don't think I could have been more prepared for a gig if I tried! I was also aware that I needed to supply galleries to two publications, so I had to make sure I got as many shots as possible.
The stage set up was nothing short of phenomenal. A massive, rib cage-esque lighting rig provided an epic backdrop for the show - they were clearly going all out with this one! Whilst there were times of darkness when it was tricky to shoot, the bulk of the first three songs were illuminated brilliantly.
I was also over the moon with the set list, as two of my favorite songs ("Local Boy In The Photograph" and "Superman") appeared in the first three. I always get more of a buzz shooting bands I love, especially when they are playing something I can sing along with. It was a great, great gig to shoot, and by all accounts every single fan went home completely blown away. Leeds Arena did itself proud putting on such a spectacle of a gig, and as for the band? Well, they've definitely still got it.