Super Furry Animals, Memorial Hall, Barry
Sunday 10 July 2005
What's going on really? Something almost as strange. Super Furry Animals, one of my favourite bands on earth, are preparing for their big Somerset House show with a low-key warm-up gig in Barry, the docks town/resort where I grew up. To put you in the picture, nobody of any repute has played Barry since Billy Bragg back in 1987 (although Catatonia once paid a visit before they made it big).
In some ways, this isn't so odd. The Super Furries have long been committed to gigging in neglected smalltown Wales, and now it's Barry's turn. What makes it even weirder, for me, is the fact that SFA have chosen the Memorial Hall, whose boards my eight-year-old self twice trod as a junior member of the Barry Arts Centre, in Treasure Island and A Christmas Carol.
The "Memo" is also the scene where real teenage dramas were acted out at the youth disco. (Who is that cute girl in the polka-dot ra-ra, dancing to Dexys? And why is Emma sat in my lap, when Karen's the one I want? Angst!) And here I am again two decades later watching Gruff Rhys, Huw Bunford, Cian Ciaran, Dafydd Ieuan and Guto Pryce walking out in neon yellow radiation suits (Gruff with added red crash helmet, jamming the mic in through the visor-hole), to road-test their forthcoming album, Love Kraft. "Surreal" doesn't begin to describe it.
There's been precious little advertising save for one canvas banner strapped to the side of the Memo itself, but there has been enough word-of-mouth to fill the hall, and hear exclusive premieres of tracks such as "Frequency", "Lazer Beam" and "Zoom" introduced with winsome simplicity and deadpan literal-ness ("This is a song about cloud-shaped berries - and it's called 'Cloudberries'").
SFA's genius has always been in realising that stoner rock music is all well and good, but hey, let's see what happens when you make pure pop music on drugs. And, even though Love Kraft ventures deep into their mellow, country-rock side, this basic premise hasn't deserted them.
It's highlighted more obviously on the cosmic boogie of "Rings Around The World", and fellow singles such as the sweet "Hello Sunshine" and even sweeter "Fire In My Heart", the anthemic "Something For The Weekend", and my personal favourite, the sprawling, uplifting-yet-heartbreaking "Ice Hockey Hair".
They end, as is traditional, with "The Man Don't Give A Fuck", accompanied by images of our leaders, captioned "ALL GOVERNMENTS ARE LIARS AND MURDERERS". It's still echoing in my mind the following morning, as I watch Bush and Blair responding to events which, at the time of writing, may scupper SFA's big London gig. Which, if anything, makes tonight an even more precious and singular experience.
Croeso i Barri. Diolch yn fawr.
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Grace Dent on TV: Peter Kay's Car Share made me genuinely LOL
Avengers: Age of Ultron set to make box office history with $84.5m US opening
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Red Dwarf returns: Craig Charles quits Coronation Street to return to comedy sci-fi series
New on Netflix UK May 2015: From Fast & Furious 6 to World War Z and Grace and Frankie
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils