Monday, 19 December 2016

Memories of 2016 gigs #13

#13: Super Furry Animals
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff - 17 December 2016
Support: Goldie Lookin' Chain, Ffugs

A week before Christmas and people are generally winding down or partying excessively. Either way, when a band comes on stage, you want them to shake you down and blow your head off with their genius; their musical dexterity, their lyrical poetry, and their sheer enigmatic stage presence. And so it was, a week before Christmas, and we get all that and more because, ladies and gentlemen, Goldie Lookin' Chain are in the house!

Back at the Motorpoint for the second time in 10 days (having only set foot in the place twice in the previous ten years) and this promised to be a real biggie. The last date of the Super Furry Animals current tour - in which they are playing their first two albums complete, in order, back to back - was a hometown gig in the city's biggest indoor venue. It was an exclusively Welsh line-up, but openers Ffug (pronounced 'fig') were on so early we missed them, which is a shame as I quite wanted to see them. MrsRobster wouldn't have objected to the running order being swapped - she's not exactly a fan of Goldie Lookin' Chain. But they did seem to get the crowd going. Ten tracksuited, baseball cap-sporting chavs[1] bounded about the stage, extolling the virtues of Newport convenience shops (Baneswell Express), dealing marijuana (21 Ounces) and psychopathic girlfriends (Your Missus Is A Nutter). "It's like a fucked-up exercise class," observed the ever-erudite MrsRobster. "Worst support band ever." There were many there who would definitely disagree, though in fairness a fair few were off their heads.

The only real downside of GLC's titanic performance was the really poor sound, and this sadly continued throughout the main set. There were times during Super Furry Animals' performance when you couldn't actually hear much of what was going on other than the heavy beats and Cian's electronics. It didn't stop a frenetic response to nearly every song by the audience. You could consider the set to be a brave move by the band - they haven't played some of these songs in years, and I suspect one or two had never been played live at all! One thing that did strike me was how much 'Fuzzy Logic' seems to work as a live album. The songs are generally upbeat with plenty of singalong parts to them. 'Radiator', on the other hand, was something of a transitional record with slower songs and a tad more experimentation. That said, it was probably 'Radiator''s most unusual song that got the best crowd response of the evening - Hermann Loves Pauline was greeted with gusto by the hordes.

What was interesting was the age-range of the audience. There were a lot of kids there, having been brought by their parents. We were stood next to one family - which included three children aged, I would guess, between 8 and 13 - all of whom were wearing different SFA t-shirts and knew every word to every song. A heartwarming sight. My guess is none of these kids will be begging mum or dad to take them to see J****n B****r next year!

While you can't fault how SFA do things, I wish the sound could have done them justice. I wasn't the only one who remarked how terrible it sounded. Whoever was on the mixing desk should try a different profession. Not even the mandatory set-closer The Man Don't Give A Fuck sounded half decent, it was only the crowd reaction that gave it any real lift. They deserve so much better.


[1] They're not really chavs, it's just an act. One of them is actually an elected member of Newport City Council. Honestly! And if you're interested in seeing this fair city and its people, here's the video for Baneswell Express.


  1. I saw SFA a couple of weeks ago. A virtually sold out gig, with the majority of the patrons in my age group - so clearly long term fans. The sound was great and the merch stand did a good trade judging by the number of brand new t-shirts, bobble hats and scarves everywhere. From all this, you'd assume that I was going to say that the atmosphere was fantastic. Alas not. It was easily the gig most blighted by talkers that I've been to in many many years. I moved around almost continually, trying to find a section of the audience that was actually paying attention to what was going on up on stage, but in vain - gas-baggers everywhere. A terribly deflating night.

    1. And I bet every single one of those talking and paying no attention to the show took a photo of the stage and posted it on Facebook to show everyone how cool they are for being at a Super Furry Animals gig. Bunch of bankers. *oops, typo...*

  2. Nothing but empathy from me on the crowd issues. That sucks, and the band deserves better.

  3. Robster, You have got to be ready to pull your hair out with all the shows you see with inferior sound. Still, a hell of a year of shows under your belt. Very impressed.

  4. Makes me grateful for seeing SFA in a natural outdoor small amphitheatre back in the summer when the sound wasn't an issue.

    I often feel, as it happens in Glasgow too, that when a home band play at venue which is larger than anywhere else than elsewhere, they struggle with the sound as simply cranking it up to fill the cavernous space isn't the best solution.

    Oh and I've also found that the hotter the ticket the more likely it is to get the gas-baggers (great description BTW - thanks Swede) along to spoil it for real fans. Happened to some extent at Arab Strap in Glasgow earlier this year although a few choice words in between songs from myself and a few others soon put a stop to it. Fucking hipsters....