"So our next song is ‘Northern Lights,’ which will be played in the style of Teenage Fanclub." It was that kind of show. After seven years of touring with electric raincoats, 5.1 stereo sound, elaborate visuals and celery-chomping gorillas, Super Furry Animals were back to basics.
Now, "basics" is the ‘Furries world still means having room for a laptop and a Power-Rangers helmet but this was, more or less five guys playing nearly two hours of great songs with the ability to keep things loose and change it up if necessary.
Which brings us to that Teenage Fanclub version of "Northern Lights." The song, from 1999’s Geurrilla, normally has a tropical vibe with steel drum and mariachi horns. I’m going to guess that there were laptop problems with this one so they just decided to play it straight. I still prefer the original — maybe one of my favorite SFA singles — but it was cool to see them just sort of winging it.
The band played for nearly two hours, with a mid-show break to "grab a drink." We got most of their new, return-to-form Hey Venus! and probably three songs off all the other albums, except Mwng and Love Kraft which only got maybe one each. But I can’t say for sure. Highlights for me were "If You Don’t Want Me to Destroy You," "Zoom!," "Receptacle for the Respectable," "She’s Got Spies," "Slow Life," and "Into the Night."
There were a couple firsts at Music Hall of Williamsburg, one being this marked their Brooklyn debut. Second, traditional epic show-closer "The Man Don’t Give a Fuck" clocked in at around five minutes, and was followed by Guerilla’s "Keep the Cosmic Trigger Happy," ending the night. I’m certain this was the only time I’ve seen them since the f-bomb laden, Steely Dan-sampling single was released that it didn’t close the show. There were some shenanigans too. Gruff Rhys engaged the crowd in a
little audience participation, getting everyone to wiggle their fingers
on top of our head like "jazz antlers" or something. And, of course, the robot head.
Sound was good, though it seemed a little quiet till they got to "Zoom!" and the sold-out audience didn’t really get into it till then either. Well, except for this dude who was totally into it, much to the occasional mortification of his tolerant girlfriend. (I’ve been that guy before.) Then there was the dude next to me who played Othello on his cellphone during the entire show. To each his own.
I only caught the last four songs of openers Holy Fuck but they were good as usual. Expanding beyond the live dance music vibe they had in effect when they opened for Forward Russia, there was a definite Who vibe going on this time. Hope they come back soon.
Super Furry Animals’ tour is only just beginning. See all shows and request a song, though apparently the widget wasn’t exactly working correctly as of Friday.