Friday, 11 November 2011

The Super Furry Animals are welsh


I am not welsh

I listen to a lot of welsh acts

I like the welsh acts.

I need to confess that I missed the Furries first time round – I’d had my fill of McGee filled rock at that point. It was all getting messy and everyone was being touted as this and that on covers of magazines and newspapers that lasted a week to two months. It was an explosion of laddishness that I hated but somehow appropriated through a swagger and a nod to the ladies with my rolled up Loaded under my arm – it used to be the FACE.

It was all style over content then – still is.

So it was with a slow shuffle and an emphasis on the late that I finally tuned in [turned on and didn’t drop off] to The Super Furry Animals. Once again my brother Paul played his part – in forcing my attention to the West [that being the geographical location of the country - not his part in making me embrace a capitalist culture – which I haven’t – but that’s another story – and it doesn’t involve Billy Bragg – but it might discuss The Housemartins] I arrived, as I said late in the day, I remember Fire in my heart – filling with me an ache - the simplicity of words capturing those feelings of emerging love – so simply put by Gruff Rhys that eventually explodes with the ba ba baas of The Beach Boys.

It was a beauty to say the least.

So I guess it started there [ it had to start somewhere] and then I think I read that this Beach Boys influence permeated the whole package – these psychedelic druids mining the harmony and humour of their place – their space. This is a group who with their first advance bought a tank – and went raving [or so the story goes]. A sort of hard edged acid tinged Family Stone for the 1990s. And with Rings Around The World – came that realisation that I had been missing out on a whole stack of tracks.

Yes – Rings around the World is the ‘critically acclaimed’ album – the most mainstream – but so what – you form rock bands to play to the masses. Not fucking stay at home and live your art maaan – this is pop – pure and simple. So from the opening Hellos to the final chords – SFA triumphed in the manner in which they conceived a stormer – form A then down to Zee. What followed from this was back catalogue mining and library sales finds of Minng and Out Spaced – not that this will happen again. The Tories are closing them down – not the Super Furries – the libraries – dismantling any sort of access the working class once had to other thoughts and ideas other than the X-factored opinions of pricks and dicks. I know I live in a wonderful part of London – christ my part is known as the village – but they were quick to shut the library down – and all the wives of the bankers who live on the streets in houses through gated driveways – complained bitterly into their fucking Starbucks coffees – short of a principle or an ideology of equality about the ‘sad loss to the village’. It is shocking though – boxes piled high with ‘For Sale’ scribed on the side – they will sell the stock away – they will not replenish nor buy it back – the libraries are over. And it is in libraries that I found solace and sounds – taking out a tape, a record or video – not forgetting the books and magazines that added to the thoughts already growing in this tiny mind. This is where revolutions happen – in the head – and then on the streets.

You amass culture through exposure to stuff. If there’s nowhere to find it – then how are you gonna mine it? It can’t happen – and I am certain that whatever story these bands I write about would tell – one will be of shared experience and access to ideas – through friends, from books, listening and borrowing – learning they call it.

But back to the Furries – this behemoth of a group – carved with wit and excitement – roots and culture in woolly hats and slight tinges of the Britpop explosion. But there were better than that – McGee could see that – we all could see that [in retrospect in my case] this band providing something much beyond the weekend and seeping into my life through their combination of the harmony and the techno undertow that makes their music flow.

So with pleasure I forked out for tickets to be entertained and amazed in 5.1 as their music ran rings around my ears in a hall in Hammersmith. We don’t get out much in my house - and this was a mid week adventure. It was years ago – but I remember it fondly. Building from Slow Life in space helmets through the majority of Rings with nuggets thrown in along the way – the Furries commanded the stage with authorative cool. Although it was an odd experience to be back inside a concert hall – as gig goers had changed – this new success for them – of which I was riding the tailcoat of had brought with it the one album purchase fan – the disinterested punter – on the phone and talking during the quiet ones. I’ve never really understood that – if you don’t like it – then fuck off home. Even with the support acts – get the fuck out the front of the stage – we’ll make room for you after.

So we spent that time in the company of welsh men – welsh musicians. And we enjoyed it.

And then they left the stage. For awhile – encore time – running late – trains to catch at London Bridge – the screens lit up – and sounds came through speakers – all governments are liars. All governments are liars and murderers. Strobes and squelches – as guitars and keyboards came together to tell us about the man and how he feels about us. This crescendo of techno – I was back in the clubs – liquid bass lines and breakbeats – they’ll do it for a forty year old man – the Furries tap right into that well, that moment when it all comes together and you feel euphoric.

But we had to leave.

We had to catch a train.

And Paul told me they appeared again in their ‘Golden Retriever’ suits – all super hairy and furry. It’s on record though – locked down on one side of a 12 inch. Absolutely beautiful and at about 7 minutes in you can hear me leaving [you can’t]

I will witness this again – and I will stay to the end.

Here it is in two parts.