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a sound reaction.

Byline: Dave Owens

WELSH rockers Fireroad will be playing some huge gigs this year after Stereophonics handed them the support slots at four shows.

The Aberdare band this week supported the Cwmaman heroes at the SSE Arena, Belfast on March 15 and the 3 Arena, Dublin on March 16.

Then this summer they will take to the stage on the same bill as the Welsh rock heroes at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham on June 2 and Cardiff City Stadium on June 9. The history between the two bands goes back a long way.

Fireroad's singer Richard Jones is a long time friend of 'Phonics singer Kelly Jones and was in proto-Stereophonics' outfit Tragic Love Company with Kelly, the late Stuart Cable and his bass-playing namesake, Richard Jones, in the early '90s.

Kelly joined Fireroad on stage in London at Christmas to perform a cover of Neil Young's Rockin' In The Free World.

It's not the first time that Fireroad have supported the 'Phonics - last year Kelly Jones personally invited the band to support them at two sold-out shows. The gigs at Plymouth Pavilion and Swindon Oasis were warm-up shows which preceded Stereophonics' headline festival appearances last summer.

The shows marked the beginning of the 20-year celebrations for the Welsh rock legends and it also marked an anniversary for Richard's own band.

"July 2017 was Fireroad's fifth birthday, so those two shows could not have come at a better time," he said.

"It's nice to think that after 20 years in the industry Stereophonics still have their feet on the ground and are prepared to give us a boost.

"I was at the Coldplay show at the Principality Stadium last year and I heard (Coldplay singer) Chris Martin say he was giving (support band) Embrace an opportunity to support as they were giving something back to the band."

He added: "We have been working hard behind the scenes preparing our second album. We have played live continuously all over the country and our fan base is increasing. I hope the offer of the shows is Kelly's way of saying 'fair play you're still having a go'."

Fireroad's new album is titled Flesh, Blood & Bone and is inspired by the life of late Merthyr boxing legend Johnny Owen.

It features unseen images of the boxer, nicknamed the Matchstick Man, who died in 1980 aged just 24 - two months after lapsing into a coma after fighting Mexico's Lupe Pintor for the bantamweight world title in Los Angeles.

These precious images have been donated by Johnny Owen's family.

"Our focus on the positive aspects of his life and work really captured the hearts of his family and we have tried to do justice to his legacy," said Richard. "The imagery fits perfectly with the lyrics and the rationale behind the title. The analogy of a small man working hard and giving all he had to achieve his dream fits perfectly with what it means to live and work in Wales.

"We have worked relentlessly over the last five years and we are completely self-sufficient, fund everything ourselves and the momentum without a label has been down to long nights and busy weekends."

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 16, 2018
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