Super Furry Animals played a two hour set to a sold out Albert Hall. Emerging in boiler suits to rousing applause, the band opened with ‘(A) Touch Sensitive’, a lyricless track from their 2001 album Rings Around the World. SFA rose to prominence at the height of Britpop, and whilst lacking the anthemic qualities of their contemporaries, they approach music in an experimental and progressive manner that few bands can rival.
Playing their first gigs in five years, the band showed their musical depth early on. Moving on from the heavier, psychedelic sounds of Rings Around The World, they utilised a trumpet and a saxophone to create a carnival atmosphere during ‘Northern Lites’ from the 1999 album Guerilla.
During the first half of the gig, the crowd were a little quiet and subdued. This was no fault of the band, who were excellent throughout. SFA have a loyal fan base that have aged with them; the lull in atmosphere could be attributed to many audience members having to be up early for a school run, work or both. This is not a slight on the audience either, with middle age comes responsibility.
The Furries then played four consecutive tracks from their pioneering Welsh language album Mwng, which has been reissued for 2015. On the eve of a general election, the tracks took on a new significance. Mwng provides a perfect example of how music can be used to protect, negotiate and celebrate languages and identities that are underrepresented and threatened. This is against a backdrop of parties holding nationalist ideologies who seem set to shake up the political establishment.
‘Hello Sunshine’ provided an acoustic sing-a-long, but it wasn’t until lead singer Gruff Rhys left the stage and re-emerged in a red helmet that proceedings really got going. Standing in a pulpit adorned with snakes he delivered the auto-tuned ‘Juxtaposed With U’. After the band’s biggest hit ‘Golden Retriever’, Rhys – a man of few words – acknowledged the crowd’s increasing energy.
Rhys revealed his political allegiances, dedicating ‘Fire In My Heart’ to Ed Miliband. The band finished with anti-establishment closer ‘The Man Don’t Give a Fuck’. Returning to the stage adorned in Yeti outfits, joined by a crab and a banana, the band then played a final encore before leaving the stage to thunderous applause.
SFA will have been gutted with the results of the general election, but on Wednesday’s evidence, if you vote with your feet and give them a watch, you won’t be disappointed.