Stereophonics | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Pity the poor Stereophonics. They're arena-headlining stars in their native Britain but get a steady stream of flak from critics, tabloids, and Thom Yorke, while in America they're reduced to warming up theater crowds for the likes of VH1-approved coffeehouse refugee Howie Day. Despite the continued efforts of their label (the Welsh combo was the first signing by Richard Branson's V2 imprint), an armful of UK hits, and the raffish good looks of singer Kelly Jones, the band has never been able to break stateside. In a kinder world, though, their reputation here would reflect their catalog, one of the more solid and consistently successful strings of singles and albums in the post-Britpop era; fans of Faces, early Rod, and later Paul Weller should particularly appreciate the pub-rocking comforts on 1997's Word Gets Around and 2001's Just Enough Education to Perform. The band's latest, You Gotta Go There to Come Back, came out amid controversy last September when drummer Stuart Cable, who had been playing with Jones since they were kids, was officially dismissed for "commitment issues"; the group has since carried on with ex-Black Crowe Steve Gorman. Fittingly, You Gotta Go is something of a concept piece about breakups, chronicling Jones's split with his girlfriend of 12 years. It's probably best to catch Stereophonics this week; they return to the midwest in May under improved circumstances, opening for David Bowie, but the closest they'll get to Chicago is the Quad Cities. Thursday, February 19, 7 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee; 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212.

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