LIVE: Super Furry Animals – The Albert Hall, Manchester

Far Out was lucky enough to witness the much anticipated comeback from one of the most complete British bands of the last 20 years.

It came as a bit of a surprise when Super Furry Animals announced they would be reuniting to celebrate 15 years since the release of their iconic Welsh language album Mwng – their first live performances together for seven years.

It was a prospect that simply hadn’t jumped into our minds, with frontman Gruff Rhys rounding off touring his latest solo record American Interior and bassist Guto Pryce stepping to the forefront with his side project Gulp.

But any conspiracy theories that this is a reformation that has been hastily put together are proved to be unfounded right from the off. During a barnstorming two-and-a half-hour set Super Furry Animals demonstrate that they have everything in their arsenal.

No that it presents any kind of risk of any kind, but the Mwng reissue hints that this could be the centrepiece of the show. However, what the crowd actually witness is a full-on greatest hits set  packed with more sing-along moments that we remembered they had.

‘(Drawing) Rings Around the World’ takes us straight back to the band’s heyday around the changing of the millennium. Back are the trademark white boiler suits that work beautifully against the backdrop of the occasionally head-spinning visuals that sit behind.

A great touch is the band’s use of the balcony areas that stretch right back to the sides of the stage. These are the areas that are usually reserved for friends family and VIPs, but this time around they have been turned into another performance area. with the bands’ trumpeter and saxophonist – both also wearing boiler suits – elevated either side of Rhys and co.

Th injection of brass leads into ‘Northern Lites’ – the best advert for Welsh Mariachi that we have ever heard – fact.

But this is by no means just a pop show, as there are too darker moment, too many tangents into the world of techno, psychedelia and krautrock for it to be so.

It’s a truly career-spanning spectacle as Super Furry Animals dip into debut album Fuzzy Logic, and bring out ‘Ymaelodi Â’r Ymylon’ and ‘Y Gwyneb Iau’ from  Mwng (wouldn’t catch us trying to pronounce those ones on the radio).

After a euphoric rendition of trademark hit ‘Something 4 the Weekend’ harks back to the band’s place in Brit-pop folklore, they leave the stage. As the roadies begin to wheel out a new set of keys for Rhys it is immediately obvious there is more to come.

But an encore that everyone expects to be one or two actually turns into six or seven. They’ve been watching for two hours now but not a single audience member appears to be losing their interest. Although admittance they are prompted by Rhys’ familiar calling cards, which read “Applause”, “Louder!” and “Ape Shit!”.

Rhys dons the old motorbike helmet for ‘Juxtaposed With U’, turns the temperature up to boiling point for glam-rock stomper ‘Golden Retriever’ and then causes the whole of the packed out venue to bounce in unison for ‘The Man Don’t Give a Fuck’. The band leave the stage again, surely that’s it?

Wrong again. Despite having already played the track Super Furry Animals are back again for a euphoric, Flaming Lips-style reprise of the closing track complete with full Golden Retriever costumes and some bright coloured alien figures bouncing around at the back.

It’s a perfectly uplifting, surreal and unified way to end a show that has been so much more than we could have hoped for. Here’s hoping we don’t ever have to wait seven years for another tour. Tonight has been sublime from start to finish.

Patrick Davies

 

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