They're a band with five number one albums under their belts, who sell out arenas and have performed all over the world - and they chose to kick-off a series of intimate warm-up gigs here in Leicester. Some 2,000 fans welcomed Welsh rockers Stereophonics to De Montfort Hall last night, for the first of 10 small shows which come before a big arena tour later in the year. The band blasted their way through hits from their back-catalogue of eight albums, including favourites such as A Thousand Trees, Mr Writer, Traffic and Just Looking and new songs including Indian Summer - which they filmed the video for right here in Leicester, fact fans - from their current release, Graffiti On The Train. Among the crowd were two Mercury competition winners, who got to watch the gig after meeting the band at their soundcheck before the show. Sarah Clarke, of Wigston, said it was "surreal" to meet the band, who she has followed since the '90s. "I thought the show was just brilliant," she said. "I really like their new album and I played it to death beforehand. "I'd wanted to go but couldn't get tickets as it was sold out, so winning the competition was a nice surprise. "There was only four of us watching them as they did their soundcheck. I got a bit gobsmacked, meeting them. We shook hands with them and had our photos taken and they were really nice. They shouted over to us, from the soundcheck, that it was a Friday night and we should go and get plastered. "Watching them for that was like our own mini concert, and we were there for a good hour. It was really interesting seeing them checking everything and going through everything. And then we got to see the proper show afterwards, it was brilliant." While frontman Kelly Jones and co gave it all on stage, the crowd was perhaps not quite as energetic as it could have been. Still, everyone was singing along and favourites Local Boy In The Photograph, Bartender And The Thief and the rousing Dakota, which closed the show, did get people moving. It's just a shame they missed out More Life In A Tramp's Vest. We like that one.