Who could have known that, due to mischievous fate, this would turn out to be one of the worst Super Furries shows ever...
This wasn’t meant to happen. No siree. This was supposed to be the night that the Super Furries finally made the big breakthrough and, thanks to live nationwide transmission by Radio 1, crashed fully weird and fully wonderful into the bedrooms and living rooms of unsuspecting suburbia. And, of course, unsuspecting suburbia, high on this whiff of the Super Furries’ big octane fusion of funk, punk and prog, would stagger wide-eyed into the shops the next morning to purchase the SFA back catalogue and boost this most precious of bands from their longstanding status as kings of the underground into the bosom of the nation’s affections. No longer a best-kept secret, they’d be up there with Cher.
Ah, but the best laid plans… Who could have known that, due to mischievous fate, this would turn out to be one of the worst Super Furries shows ever? The evidence was all to the contrary. At the NME Bratshows back in January, they were the stars of the week. People around here still talk of ‘Demons’ with a glint in their eye – how the trumpets were played by that couple fully decked out as bride and groom, how they embraced at the end of their reveille, how they tossed the bouquet into the crowd. Sheer surrealistic class!
And then there was the tent at Reading, Super Furries in all their sensurround glory, ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ sneaking up behind you and pummelling your kidneys even as the bass launched a frontal pounding on your guts. Super Furries were the best band on earth that night. No argument.
So where did it all go so terribly wrong? Blame it on the PA. There were spooks in there tonight. Now, it’s tough enough understanding Gruff at the best of times and, indeed, half the fun of listening to the Super Furries is misinterpreting Gruff’s thick-tongued soliloquies and making up our own words. But tonight all the sweet and poignant mystery of his vocal is reduced to a bleeping rasp, drowned out by swathes of woolly bass. And all the little quirks and crackles, all the tumultuous heave and pitch of the Super Furry techno wizardry is dismantled into nuts and bolts before our very ears.
It’s not that the band aren’t game. But tonight, with Mr and Mrs Great Britain listening, they are cruelly defeated. New songs, titles announced but indecipherable through the sonic fog, are started, truncated, abandoned in a welter of unwelcome explosions from the amps; all their tenderness and intimacy mugged into submission.
Even the mighty ‘Smokin” is humbled, its back broken by a surfeit of technical fudge. ‘Ice Hockey Hair’ similarly slopes off ashamed and ‘Demons’? Well, they’d brought no trumpets. The band just bah-bah-bahed along.
No ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ either. Too risqui for the radio? Perhaps they were saving it for an encore, when the transmission had ceased. But there was no encore. Just the band, distressed, skulking off stage, doubtless praying for an epidemic of collective amnesia.