thu 22/03/2018

Super Furry Animals, O2 Brixton Academy | reviews, news & interviews

Super Furry Animals, O2 Brixton Academy

Super Furry Animals, O2 Brixton Academy

The most inventive band in pop pick up where they left off for an emotional return

SFA: You ain't seen nothin' yeti

The timing of this tour, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their self-released, lo-fi masterpiece Mwng, could not be more fitting. The album was inspired, in part, by Welsh language punk band Datblygu, and the left-wing political feelings that ran through that band’s work. Fast forward to now and London looks like an island of red surrounded by a sea of blue following the recent election – and there are a lot of people here aching for escape after Thursday's events.

The tour has the air of a retrospective. The songs from Mwng, including the sea-shanty sway of “Ymaelodi A’r Ymylon” and the gentle, soothing soar of “Y Gwyneb lau”, are gathered together in the middle section, surrounded by gems from a mostly impeccable slew of albums over the band’s 20 year career. It’s wilfully celebratory and catches the mood perfectly: as one observer put it, "There’s so much love in the room."

Throughout the gig, the band, led by Gruff Rhys and all dressed down in white overalls, show such strength, depth and sheer variety that it’s hard to imagine another who could match it. The urgent, incessant drive of “Rings Around the World” launches straight into the pure pop punk of “Do Or Die” barely missing a beat, before everyone in the room is given reason to ask whether “Ice Hockey Hair” could be the best song ever written. The truth of the matter is neither here nor there, because for five minutes in Brixton Academy it is – no question.

The Man may not give a fuck, but Super Furry Animals do

It’s a commanding performance, both bold and brassy (literally, with the mariachi-style horns cutting through perfectly thanks to some very sympathetic work on the mixing desk). The Mwng suite is a revelation (previously the songs have only been heard live in America and Japan) and offers a new dimension to the SFA experience: more contemplative perhaps, but no less enthralling. “Run Christian Run” soothes, “Hello Sunshine” hugs and “Zoom” stops the room, if not the clocks, dead in its tracks. The finale, complete with the cacophonous choral build straight out of the Jean-Claude Vannier songbook, is simply staggering.

A short break allows the band to re-emerge to possibly the best show opener they have in “Slow Life”, at which point smiles break out on almost every face I can see. I know what’s coming, having been at Cardiff University last weekend, and they have good reason to smile. The Barry White strings of “Juxtapozed with U” begin and the song – addressing concerns of the super rich and the struggling masses flailing in their wake, has rarely sounded so apposite. The energy builds throughout the bounding stomp of “Golden Retriever” through to “Receptacle for the Respectable” – the best song Jeff Lynne never wrote. Then, almost without notice it seems, the yeti costumes are back and we are launched into the song that everyone wants – needs even. The cathartic rush and punch-the-air righteous fury of “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck” has rarely, if ever, sounded so furious. The Man may not give a fuck, but Super Furry Animals do and, in return, they command love, even while whipping up anger. It’s a wonderful, glorious wave of release and, as always, provides the perfect ending.

They show such strength, depth and sheer variety that it’s hard to imagine another band who could match it


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters