On Thursday 12 March 2020, Kelly Jones, his Stereophonics bandmates and their crew gathered in front of a television screen to watch the prime minister address the nation. “That was the first day Boris Johnson went on telly with those scientist guys, and they said: ‘Nothing’s closing down. Everything continues as it is,’” recalls Jones from his studio in London. The announcement was met with relief, as it meant the band were clear to go ahead with a pair of headline shows at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena that weekend.
It was only after the gigs were done that Jones, who doesn’t use social media, realised he’d inadvertently found himself at the centre of a national controversy. “I got back to my house in Wales and someone said: ‘Piers Morgan’s been having a right pop at you, hasn’t he?’” he remembers. “I didn’t know what they meant, because I knew Lewis Capaldi was doing shows, and the West End was still running.”
That same weekend, Premier League fixtures were suspended, as was Wales’s Six Nations rugby match against Scotland, but Jones says even with hindsight he has no regrets about pressing on with his band’s performances. “I stand by what we did,” he says, matter-of-factly. “We followed the advice. I had my own family there, including my parents, my pregnant wife and my five-year-old. If we upset people, we upset people, but we followed the guidelines at the time.”