This is Friday night at The Wardrobe. There are pork pie hats, trilbys, expensive tweed flat caps, fishermen’s hats and a baseball cap – although I’m not quite sure how that one got through style control on the door. As the name suggests, this is a venue where you get dressed up. There’s always a little bit of theatre and drama at events here. A fitting venue, then, for Stone Foundation who are here tonight as part of an old-fashioned promotional tour of their very successful album Street Rituals.
The prompt 9.15pm start, and I mean, on the dot, suggests that this is going to be a high-energy gig and Stone Foundation are going to make the very most of their slot tonight. And they do. It’s difficult to get a shot of them that isn’t blurred because they never stand still.
The stage is packed, the front alone has the horn section and then, as true equals, the two Neils – Sheasby and Jones. Tonally, the colour palette is maroon through to grey. Muted, understated and classic. Tasteful, you might say, rather like the music.
The majority of the songs in the first half hour or so are from Street Rituals and it’s very difficult to discern a difference in quality from the recorded version. Part of the reason for Stone Foundation’s new-found glory is the support of Paul Weller. He played a significant role in the new album and the Spirit of Weller is definitely in the room. In fact there are times when it is hard to believe that he isn’t on stage somewhere, chipping in with the vocals.
What that means, of course, is that Stone Foundation are fully fledged. They deliver all the songs with enthusiasm and there are numerous times when Neil Jones calls the crowd to “help me out”. Leeds is appreciative and actually contributes brilliantly on the “We got to work together” bits of ‘Street Rituals’. We are far from the terraces of LUFC here!
There is a really positive unifying message that underpins much of the music of Stone Foundation. It feels much needed. The overt politics of ‘Strange People’ and their acknowledged ‘manifesto’, ‘Simplify The Situation’ energise and uplift.
After giving so much of themselves for over an hour with no breaks, Stone Foundation want to give back even more by spending time meeting fans and signing merchandise. You can’t help but feel love for your fellow humans after that.