Sunday, 17 May 2015

Recent Gigs Part One: Super Furry Animals

In an unofficial '90s revival I've recently been to two cracking gigs at my fave venue, Gloucester's ever-groovy Guildhall, starting with a mid-week excursion into the wild and wonderful world of Welsh wizards the Super Furry Animals. The Super Furries were probably the quintessential festival band of the 1990s and even managed to bother the charts occasionally with their resolutely odd take on Britpop. ( They'd probably hate to be labelled as such but they were definitely the wierder alternative to the likes of Blur and Oasis back in the days of  "Cool Britannia". ) I've got a couple of their albums and always meant to see them live but never managed it so, when they announced they were doing a warm-up gig for their first tour in years at the Guildhall, it was a must for me... and for about 400 others who packed out the venue.
 There was no support band, only a DJ spinning some bangin' choons ( as I believe they're called ), and there was a buzz of excitement as we waited for the boiler-suited band to appear ( above is a pic of them backstage just before the gig started ). This tour was based around the 10th anniversary re-release of Mwng, the band's ground-breaking Welsh language album, so I wasn't sure what kind of gig to expect. Was it all going to be songs in Welsh that I didn't know? Not that there's anything wrong with that but I was hoping for one or two familiar tunes I could sing along to...
I didn't need to worry: SFA came out to rapturous applause and proceeded to play half an hour of hits  -  ( Drawing ) Rings Around The World, Do Or Die, God! Show Me Magic, Bad Behaviour, Demons and Northern Lites  -  wow! All perfectly-formed, slightly off-centre nuggets of pure awesomeness; all Number One hits from an alternate universe where great tunes, melodies, lyrics and strangeness combine to keep this world's usual factory-farmed pop at bay. Then the slightly-creepy cover artwork of Mwng ( a pipe-smoking, bearded animal skull ) was projected onto the backdrop behind the band, signalling the next stage of the two-hour set.
In contrast to the psychedelic pop of the previous songs, the Mwng material was predominantly melancholy and more stripped back, with excellent use of a two-man horn section ( ooh, er! ) and highlighting Gruff Rhys's plaintive, heart-on-sleeve vocals. Unsurprisingly he gave an absolutely beautiful vocal performance in his native tongue  -  I've got no idea what he was singing about but the pure emotion of it all shone through like a ray of sunlight. After barnstorming versions of Hometown Unicorn and Ice Hockey Hair ( yay! ) we were into the home stretch and things got more and more raucous and surreal...
The set closed with huge singalongs Fire In My Heart and Mountain People, the band left the stage... and the famous SFA yetis, reborn for 2015, stomped back on for a final, pounding surge through protest anthem The Man Don't Give A Fuck. The fairly restrained Guildhall audience went absolutely nuts for this one, the whole venue shaking to the repeated, expletive-laced blitzkrieg of the chorus. And then it was all over and I drove home with Ice Hockey Hair still ringing through my head, knowing I'd just seen one of the best live bands ever. SFA OK!
Next time in the '90s revival slot  -  solo gigs for EMF and Wonder Stuff frontmen...

2 comments:

John Pitt said...

But did they do the one where Paul McCartney crunched on a stick of celery on?
Look forward to hearing your post on the EMF man gig. I used to like them, never did find out what it really stood for when they said it wasn't Ecstasy Motherf***er?

cerebus660 said...

Apparently, an alternative explanation was "Epsom Mad Funkers"... which made even less sense :-)

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