22nd September, 2005

Soothed by the Super Furries

There’s not so much fury in the Furry these days. Now on their sixth or seventh album proper, the Super Furry Animals - possibly the UK’s most underrated, most loveable, most inventive band - soothed us with a very mellow set at Nottingham’s Rock City last night.

Pete Fowler's Songbook artwork

A ten-legged Brian Wilson

I think I must have seen them six, seven or eight times now, the first way back at Glastonbury in 1997 when they bashed their way through the early three-minute footstompers. As the years have come and gone, SFA’s output has become increasingly mature, introspective, outrospective, political - and with their beautiful soundscapes they’re kind of like a ten-legged Brian Wilson for the indie generation. Nowhere else will you find such harmonious melodies played off against pointedly accusatory and topical lyrics. Except maybe with The Flaming Lips, but the Super Furries have much better costumes.

So last night they entered the stage in a golf buggy, wearing fibre optic jump suits, and left to a maelstrom of techno music - as usual. However, the songs were softer, more gentle. Anyone who bought Rings Around The World will remember the delicious anti-religion of Run, Christian, Run. Well the Furries chose to maintain that vibe throughout the middle of the set, selecting sumptious slowies such as Zoom and Atomik Lust.

That said, we still got blistering jump-up-and-downers such as Calimero (the one about the Italian cartoon chicken), The International language of Screaming, a raucous Receptacle For The Respectable and the now traditional closing epic The Man Don’t Give A Fuck.

One of the biggest cheers was for sing-along classic Juxtaposed With U, a lesson in tolerance sung loud by all, seeming more poignant than ever:

You’ve got to tolerate all the people that you hate.
I’m not in love with you, but I won’t hold that against you.

A fire in my heart for ‘Janet’

Amidst the joyous between song banter - where Nottingham was renamed ‘Colin’, before Gruff decided Nottingham should be “more female” (hence him singing to ‘Janet’) - I couldn’t help being overcome with inner glee for all things Super, Furry and Animally once more. This is a glee that has appeared publicly many times. I’ve only met Alan McGee (the Creation Records man who signed them a decade ago) once, and all I said to him that day was “It’s great to meet you. Thanks for the Super Furry Animals”. Embarrassing, but at least I didn’t gush about Oasis like everybody else does.

SFA continue to make great albums and stay inventive. New album Love Kraft is a cuddly, but less instant slab of Welsh wonder. Still, hearing tracks from it last night made me realise the scope and ambition of some of the tracks. Think they sound good on CD? Go see ‘em live.

Adopt an Animal

If you’re not familiar with SFA, here are my suggestions. Best album: Rings Around The World. Second best album: Radiator. Most mental but melodic: Mwng (sung entirely in Welsh). Best track not on any of the albums: Ice Hockey Hair. Alternatively, skip to their singles collection Songbook, and drink in the melodies and fuzzy pop. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

Hello too to Michael the sound man for letting me in the sound booth and giving me a can of 7up. I didn’t know they still made that.

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