The Super Furry Animals bring their costumes, witty lyrics, stonking music and light show for the Fuzzy Logic and Radiator Tour in Leeds.
By John Hayhurst
Photos by John Hayhurst – snapagig.com
It has been 2 years since Gruff Rhys and the boys got back together after their 6 year break, and 20 years since their debut album hit the record shelves, but tonight in Leeds they packed them in for one of those ‘play the whole album in full’ tours which seem so popular to do these days. So popular in fact that I’m at 3 shows in one week at the same venue, with The Fratellis and Kula Shaker playing the bread in the SFA sandwich.
Starting with Fuzzy Logic and Side 1, the welsh band stroll on the stage wearing white boiler suits holding boards which state exactly what they are about to do, Gruff doing a very brief introduction and says that it will be complete with all the spaces in-between. He’s right, as he barely says a word before or after each track, but he doesn’t need to mind as there is a lot to get through and the set list runs to several sheets.
Super Furry Animals are one of those bands that have never compromised on their output, sticking to what they believed in, even if that means doing a whole album in their native Welsh language ( 2000’s “Mwng”) and songs where the lyricism is clever, witty, poignant and thoughtful.
Tonight, we get 2 albums for the price of 1, and after the stunningly perfect execution from “God Show Me Magic” to “For Now and Ever” on Fuzzy Logic, it’s ‘Radiator’ next and the board is displayed to the dutiful assembled crowd with much noisy cheering.
For me the first album had more of the expected hits like “Bad Behaviour”, “Hometown Unicorn”, “If You Don’t Want Me to Destroy You” and “Something 4 the Weekend”, but it’s Radiator where you find the tracks that grew over time to become personal favourites. “The International Language of Screaming” gets the crowd moving and then a quite superb rendition of “Demons” where the red lighting on stage was used to full effect. I’ve always loved the opening line “Clarity…just confuses me” and hearing this live after so many years brings out goosebumps and memories of a youth lost somewhere along the road to serious adulthood.
This is why these album tours are so worth going to, because it’s the way we listened to those records, from the start of side one to the end of side 2, in full – not through the immediacy and purchase of individual files, these albums were meant to be heard in full, so that you appreciate the different textures and understand the flow of each track (sorry – rant over!).
SFA are no strangers to a bit of a laser show and could quite easily slip into some Prog more associated with Pink Floyd than the indie bands of the 90’s they are normally linked to. “Hermann Loves Pauline” and “Play it Cool” are the other notable singles getting the light show treatment and then finally the trippy sound of “Mountain People” finish a quite amazing 26 song setlist.
The quality of musicianship and brilliance of this live band needs to be seen, the audience tonight are built from a hardcore following looking to reminisce and they get washed away in the moment, it’s a great thing to watch and experience.
Even after 26 songs there is room for an encore and whilst I would love to hear a “Rings Around the World” or “Hello Sunshine” there is really only 1 track they can play, and “Man Don’t Give a F**k” complete with the Golden Retriever furry suits at the end, rounding off a quite superb night. Here’s to the next album tour, make sure you get tickets!
The Super Furry Animals played at Leeds O2 Academy on Thursday 15 December 2016