Super Furry Animals
Dolan's Warehouse, Limerick, June 19th 2003
When renowned acts play what are considered "club dates", you can never
really predict what is going to happen. When the act in question is Super Furry
Animals, you definitely don't know what is going to happen. This, after all, is
the band that once had infamous dope mongrel Howard Marks open for them; not to
mention the fact that they have constantly jumped through several genres over
the last decade.
So when frontman Gruff Rhys comes on stage and tells us that we are about to hear a song that has never been played live before, one could sense that this show would be primarily confined to material from the five-piece's forthcoming sixth album "Phantom Power". However, Gruff then finished his sentence with the words "in Limerick", and quickly launched into a vigorous rendition of one of SFA's most loved tracks, "Demons". It seemed a bit of a pity then that most of tonight's audience missed what was surely going to be one of the night's highlights. The doors opening at eight, combined with the no-show of the support act, meant that few witnessed the Furrys' entrance at about twenty past nine. As the gig advanced, the venue did fill up rather nicely. Nevertheless, for a band of this multitude, the "sold out" sign should have been hanging on the door from the start of the night, and questions definitely have to be asked of the promoters.
On the music front, SFA didn't seem to be deterred by the fact that there were people entering during their songs. There was an extremely generous helping of some of the old hits, along with previews from the aforementioned forthcoming album. "Hello Sunshine", the opening track from "Phantom Power", did exactly what it said on the tin and also tipped its hat in the direction of the acoustic-route that the new album is rumoured to take. The new single "Golden Retriever" was also played, along with a few more new tracks. Not surprisingly, a few tracks from their Welsh language album "Mwng" featured throughout tonight's set, as did a boisterous "Torra Fy Ngwallt Yn Hir" that was lifted from the band's 1997 album "Radiator". Other crowd favourites included the title track from 'Rings Around The World' (2001), and "Receptacle for the Respectable" from the same album. All the way through, the background visuals of long-time collaborator Pete Fowler added to the uniqueness of the SFA experience.
Yet, it seemed to take a while for the audience to truly engage. The last forty minutes or so saw the band really up the ante. A glorious performance of "Juxtapozed With U"; a somewhat maniacal "Hermann Loves Pauline" which saw the crowd scream along to the line "we have ways of making you think"; and the exquisite ode to their native area "Mountain People" made for a thrilling climax to the gig. There will always be only one way to finish a SFA show and that is the never to be played on daytime radio anthem that is "The Man Don't Give A Fuck". This sequenced into about fifteen minutes of an electro/techno version of the tune, before the Furrys' briefly came back on to reprise it.
On the evidence of their long-overdue Limerick debut, and considering that at album number six they are now veritable veterans, it seems that there is still plenty water left in the well for Super Furry Animals.