Wednesday, 16 September 2009

LIVE REVIEW: Super Furry Animals @ Highline Ballroom, NYC

Following a daytime of sombre reflection 8 years after the 9/11 attacks, this particular Friday night was always going to be a tough ask of anyone performing. Nonetheless, with British mates in town it seemed only right to hit the Highline and check out grizzled Welsh indie-rockers, Super Furry Animals.

As cult heroes, one will often hear that the Super Furries "should be much bigger" than they actually are. Despite this, with packed out NY/NJ shows across the weekend - the band appearing at Maxwell's and ATP New York in a matter of days - they're certainly not in any kind of bad shape.

Before the main event, the gathering throng is 'treated' to a sullen performance from Long Islanders The March Fourth! Although the instrumentation keeps things somewhat interesting, veering as it does from spiky electronica to all-out rock, the singer is clearly irked by something and looks miserable as sin throughout the band's set. Add to this the weak vocal and lack of between song banter and it's hard to feel much more than a gentle relief as they exit the stage. Following them, the pleasant yet uninspiring Jersey boys in Real Estate put in a competent but plodding set. That the band is supporting such livewires as SFA and, next month, the raucous Japandroids only adds to the queer juxtaposition of support vs headliner.

After what seems like an age, the boys from the valleys take the stage. Displaying various signage to encourage crowd 'APPLAUSE!' and 'WOAH!'s, singer Gruff Rhys immediately succeeds where those before him have failed, endearing himself to an admittedly already won-over audience. As a terrible photographer, I invite you to peruse the much more enjoyable section of pics over at the mighty Brooklyn Vegan here.

MP3: Super Furry Animals - Juxtapozed With U
Taken from 2001's 'Rings Around The World'

Buy it at Insound!

Launching sharply into a familiar trio of Slow Life, Rings Around the World, and Juxtapozed, the band gets off to a healthy start. The latter in particular sees Rhys contorting his singing into weird and wonderful electro-shapes via some form of vocoder, simultaneously poppy and disturbing. Employing a variety of instrumentation throughout - not to mention amusing flash cards and hand signals - the lead singer is an engaging character and, unsurprisingly, the main focus of crowd attention.

Further set highlights include upbeat newie Moped Eyes (taken from the recent 'Dark Days / Light Years' release) and The Very Best of Neil Diamond, which is entirely unrelated to Mr Diamond. Probably. Possibly. Equally adept at pulling relaxed acoustic numbers out of the hat as they are barreling rock songs, even when the PA karks it for 15 minutes or thereabouts, the band are able to battle through with a mixture of solos, shouting, and the reliable fall back to the 'EARTH!' stance. With the reliably rousing Man Don't Give A Fuck helping to close things out late on, the system eventually returns for the band to give everyone one last blast to the cranium.

All in all, Super Furry Animals reign triumphant for a good 2 hours in the face of disappointing supports, technical glitches, and the lingering shadow of this particular date. Where many a lesser band could have fallen, they reign supreme to an appreciative audience. Perhaps, indeed, they should be much bigger.

Now playing: The Aeroplanes - Just a Girl
via FoxyTunes


Neil said...

nah, if they were bigger we wouldn't like them as much.

zidered said...

There IS something to be said for cult appeal.