For the previously uninitiated (as I was), Super Furry Animals live in concert can only be described as an experience worth repeating. So much so that the Welsh quintet’s Saturday night show at The Bluebird included a back-to-back, repeat performance of fan-favorite “International Language of Screaming.” And there was much rejoicing.
Of course, likening the band’s sound to anyone or anything else takes a bit more effort, but first-time listeners might agree that SFA could be summed up in one simple (okay, complex) definition: If the Apples in Stereo were to travel to the UK to learn about the Beach Boys from Grandaddy, and then subsequently journey to Wales for a two-week acid trip, they might come back sounding something like SFA. Of course, they’d still be short one kick-ass visual presentation, but who’s keeping score?
The Furry Five might not garner as much acclaim or airtime as some of their fellow UK exports – Radiohead and Coldplay come to mind – but one gets the sense it’s not for lack of trying. SFA has been quite prolific over a career that began nearly a decade ago. With seven LPs, including the Welsh-language “Mwng,” and countless tours, the group has had little time to remain idle.
On stage, SFA’s pop sensibilities run the gamut from the somber and psychedelic to the giddy and excitable. Such attention to putting on a complete musical experience seems to have become a lost art form, as today’s big-money acts tend to focus more on stage production than they do music. Case in point, you’ll not see Ms. Spears or her ilk dawn a space helmet and sing from her temple.
To be fair, SFA isn’t above the live, P.T. Barnum antics. Apart from the alien helmet temple singing, the band relies on a variety of screen images to engage its audiences and paint a picture of each song. But whereas elaborate stage sets and 20-person dance troops are generally designed to compensate for musical deficiencies, SFA’s visual armada is the perfect complement to a sound that cannot be classified in any rational sense.
Saturday night’s performance was the group’s second trip to Denver, with this stop including a side jaunt to Twist & Shout for an instore acoustic appearance. Judging by the packed attendance for these events, we’re likely to see SFA again. Hopefully next time SFA vocalist Gruff will teach us how he does that temple trick.