Super Furry Animals have never been a band to be taken for granted but their return to live duties after six years shows both just how much they’ve been missed and needed.
This is the band that seamlessly blended psychedelia with pop, glam beats, space rock, country twangs and techno, tying them with lyrical concerns as varied as unicorns, communication in the digital age and social conscience. The roar of approval that greets the band as they appear in white overalls is hugely heartfelt and it’s impossible not to warm to a band that announces: “Hullo. We’re here to cheer you up!” And they bloody well do.
By their own elaborate and flamboyant standards, this is a relatively stripped-back affair. While the lasers and ever-changing backdrops remain in place, the quadraphonic soundsystem has been left at home. With much of the focus on the music, this is a compelling performance that’s a creation of empathetic wonder because, as ever, Super Furry Animals are on your side.
As displayed by a four-song run that includes gloriously hazy readings of Ymaelodi A’r Ymylon and Pan Ddaw’r Wawr, Super Furry Animals are here to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their Welsh language album, Mwng. It’s a bold move to concentrate so much material in their native tongue, yet the dividends are manifold as the music shifts down a gear to a hypnotically leisured pace to highlight the breadth of their vision.
But it’s when SAF kick up that the venue erupts into celebration. Hello Sunshine is a cathartic release for many here in the wake of the UK election results as Gruff Rhys sings, ‘In honesty it’s a been a while/Since we had reason left to smile’, and there’s a beautiful moment when, pausing between verses, the band is met with wild cheers. The techno-inflected Slow Life detonates the venue into an orgy of dancing that’s then fuelled by the glam groove of Golden Retriever and a joyous Receptacle For The Respectable. Returning to the stage in their long-retired yeti outfits, The Man Don’t Give A Fuck, possibly the most idiosyncratic protest song of the last 20 years, takes on added poignancy after the last 24 hours.