Super Furry Animals - Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Super Furry Animals - Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

by Ian Fraser Rating: Release Date:

After a lengthy fallow period, Super Furry Animals have been making up for lost time of late. In addition to their first new material in seven years (the single ‘Bing Bong’) they were at pretty much every festival back in the summer while December saw them touring their first two albums in a Don’t Look Back, ATP style nostalgic indulgence. Judging by the large crowd drawn to Cardiff’s 7,500 capacity Motorpoint Arena, nostalgia’s pretty lucrative right now.

Now I have to admit to mixed views about these gigs where acts play albums in their entirety and in original running order. It’s not as if they invoke a heightened sense of anticipation, after all. On the plus side though, as a reviewer you don’t need to beg, steal or borrow a set list and if you have an imagination you probably don’t even need to show up (needless to say I don’t, and so I did). It should also provide reassurance of quality control assuming they just don’t zip through in perfunctory manner. Thankfully they don’t, but you still get the impression they could have knocked this out in their sleep, which is what you’d expect from a well-drilled outfit that have been playing this for 15 nights on the spin.

Decked out in trademark boiler suits and flanked by giant Radiator characters each side of the stage, our Hometown Unicorns take to the stage, kicking off with a more than passable ‘God Show Me Magic’. From the outset, a succession of cue boards advertise the order of ceremony at various points (and will prompt various audience reactions, “go ape shit” chief among them) while fruit machine graphics give clues throughout the night as to which song we are about to hear.

The debut Fuzzy Logic is the more consistent if perhaps less exceptional album and it’s one I have a definite soft spot for. They more than do it justice, but it’s during the early tracks of Radiator that the crowd really starts to buzz, the light show become more intense and the volume increases to the point where I can no longer hear the two guys stood behind me talking incessantly. How I wanted to boil their heads at one point. All was forgiven, though, as ‘The Placid Casual’ and ‘The International Language Of Screaming’ had everyone up on their toes before ‘Demons’ provided a truly sublime moment. Now this song is my ‘Hallelujah’, pure and simple, the crucial difference being that everyone with a recording contract and/or audience doesn’t feel obliged to assail us with their lame interpretation of it. It came complete with brass section, too, and just for a moment 2016 wasn’t such a shit-fest after all.

While Radiator has to rank as your reviewer’s favourite SFA album and packs its fair share of crowd pleasers (‘She’s Got Spies’, ‘Herman Loves Pauline’) it contains a couple of songs that stress test the idea of the album re-creation gig. Just as you wonder how on earth they are going to get away with finishing their set with the dirge-like ‘Mountain People’ they crank up an epic version of ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’, by which time the Prisoner-style inflatable balls had been released and were being tossed around by an enthusiastic audience, befitting of an end of tour homecoming. Incidentally one of these managed to find its way onto the last train back to Barry (not guilty yer honour, truthfully).

All of which made for an uplifting night, a fitting reminder of just how ahead of the curve this lot were back in the day and with enough weirdness thrown in to justify that psychedelic tag. All that and Goldie Lookin’ Chain, too, but that’s another story.

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Call me a pop music slut for my dispensable bubblegum tastes, but I've always loved 'golden retriever' as a great SFA song. Got me into them.

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