The second time we saw Super Furry Animals was on their ‘Rings Around The World’ tour in 2001. They had complicated visuals, mostly taken from the album’s accompanying DVD but screened in perfect time with the music, and a quadrophonic sound system all the better to transmit their electro wigouts.
It was also at a large venue, resulting in an overwhelmingly loud and grand psychedelic AV feast. Seeing them last night at End Of The Road couldn’t really have been much more different.
There were no visuals, merely a bright abstract backdrop. The sound was in no way quadrophonic and was, in fact, a little too quiet for our tastes – at no point could you physically feel the bass which really connects you to a live performance. SFA also seem to have morphed into a guitar band in support of the driving and straight forward ‘Hey Venus!’ album. This is all no problem, however, when the tracks they perform are some of the greatest pop songs of the last few decades.
They’re nearly half an hour late coming on and we’re beginning to worry when out of nowhere the echoed fairground madness of ‘Slow Life’ comes bursting out of the speakers in the leafy glade of the Garden Stage. Perhaps the most perfect summation of the Super Furries‘ career, it moves from glitchy techno to driving rock and sweeping strings over nearly seven glorious minutes. Followed by the light-footed genius of ‘(Drawing) Rings Around The World’ and ‘Golden Retriever’, it’s awe-inspiring.
The hits keep coming, and even new single ‘Run-Away’ is greeted like an old friend – although there’s a distinct lack of the techno meltdowns we’re used to in their set, and the band’s ‘indie’ version of their calypso hit ‘Northern Lites’ feels rather leaden.
Aside from that, however, it’s hard to fault the performance. SFA might be going through a slightly less adventurous period in their music at the moment, but that only allowed them to show the quality and depth of their songwriting skills at End Of The Road.
It will be a sad, sad day when Super Furry Animals split up.
Words: Tom Pinnock
Pic credit: PA Photos