It’s my final gig of 2016 and it seems poignant that it is a band that I have seen in each of the last three decades (that makes me seem really old, but I don’t feel it). I saw the Super Furry Animals on one of their very first tours back in 1996 somewhere in Wolverhampton but I’ve seen them that many times (easily into double figures) that the actual details merge with many of the other times that I have seen them.
There is something special about this tour, yes it’s 20 years since they released Fuzzy Logic and yes we are getting their first two albums played in full and in order; but there is an air of something else in the O2 Institute that makes it feel rather different to an ordinary gig. Was it the volume of SFA OK hats? Or the variety of SFA t-shirts that were on show probably dating back to 1996? Was it the fact that I got to interview Huw a couple of weeks previous to the gig (read that here)? I’m really not sure but there was something different.
The gig could have very easily have been marred by a hit and run accident that I had on my way to the venue, but the anticipation of seeing the band kept me going albeit through anger at the idiot that hit my car and drove off.
At about 8 pm the sole support act Ffug came onto the stage. They entered to a blast of techno influenced musical sounds which the drummer joined in with and the band launched into their first track. The bilingual and experimentally punk sounding four piece from Pembrokeshire kept the crowd interested with their music. They are a young band learning their craft, and this showed at points of their set. They have some interesting and diverse use of sounds produced by their instruments, and a snarling energy given to us by the lead singer, but their sound seemed to be very much driven by the drummer who was superb. Their debut album, produced by Super Furry Animal’s drummer Daffyd Leuan, is available on streaming services and it’s worth a listen or two.
At 9 pm the Furries took to a darkened, smoke-filled stage, wearing white boiler suits. The Welsh quintet were armed with large white placards that gave us information as to where we were with the albums, and what they would like us to do as they played them. In the background, we had slot machine imagery projected onto screens which spun around to simply show three letters G O D and we were away with track one of their debut “God! Show Me Magic”.
Of course, we knew the setlist already, or certainly the die-hard fan knew the setlist provided you knew the order of the albums. It was interesting to hear people trying to guess the track based on the imagery on the slot machine backdrop. From S4W (Something for the Weekend) to BEE (Frisbee), and HTU (Hometown Unicorn) to BAD (Bad Behaviour) and MAR MAN (Mario Man) there was almost a game to get it first. The added subtlety of the lighting together with the projector just seemed to really work. It was minimalist but in a very clever way from the green strip lighting for Gathering Moss to the reds during Demons it all seemed to flow. Favourite tracks from the debut album for me were BAD (Bad Behaviour) and S4W (Something for the Weekend).
This was in no doubt a gig for the fan. And each song showed just how fanatical the Super Furry Animal fans are. There are tracks played that I have never heard in my 20 years of seeing the band live and I know that others must be thinking the same. I wondered which album would get the best reaction – I thought that it would be Fuzzy Logic but actually, I was wrong. After they concluded the debut album with very prog rock guitars in the sky end to “For Now and Ever” we were asked to go “APE SHIT” and give “PROLONGED APPLAUSE” while the band left the stage briefly, returning to the sounds of “Furryvision” and ready to perform RAD IAT OR.
The reaction to their second album was brilliant. It was clear that the majority of the venue wanted to hear this album live, with many more sing-a-long moments and some decent middle-aged moshing. The best crowd reaction of the night was to tracks off this album, ILS (The International Language of Screaming), KGB CIA MI5 MI6 (She’s Got Spies) and Hâ¤ï¸P (Hermann Loves Pauline) all sent the crowd wild. My personal favourite tracks off this album were Play It Cool, mainly due to the happy vibes that it created with the singing and clapping to in time at the right moments, and the superb 1min 30sec rendition of Chubacabras featuring unexpected air horns let off in the sound booth (which I was standing next to!)
Gruff and Huw rarely addressed the crowd during the night but they didn’t need to in all honesty. The music spoke for them and you could clearly see that they were thoroughly enjoying every minute of being on stage and playing tracks that they were not used to playing. When Gruff did address the crowd it had meaning and was purposeful – like to let us know that the last four tracks of Radiator were referred to as “the downer hour even though it’s not an hour long.” and asking us to “maybe chant down. Or maybe take the lights down.”
Following final album song Mountain People, we got asked to give “APPLAUSE” and to do it “LOUDER” by cards and the band concluded the set with an elongated version of “Man Don’t Give a F*ck”. Of course the band left the stage during this and returned wearing their trademarked yeti costumes. The final card of the night simply said “THE END”, but let’s hope that this was just referring to the set not anything else. The Super Furry Animals graced the O2 Institute with music from 20 years ago but it felt as though the albums and the band hadn’t aged a day. They played it with the same energy and same drive to an ageing crowd who must have felt like teenagers again. The band enjoyed it, the crowd enjoyed it and the SFA were more than OK tonight, they were outstanding.
God! Show Me Magic
Something For the Weekend
If You Don’t Want Me to Destroy You
Hangin’ with Howard Marks
For Now and Ever
The Placid Casual
The International Language of Screaming
She’s Got Spies
Play It Cool
Hermann â™¥’s Pauline
Torra Fy Ngwallt Yn Hir
Bass Tuned to D.E.A.D
Down a Different River
The Man Don’t Give A F*ck
Reviewer – Imran Khan
Image courtesy of PR.