The unmistakable sounds of Gruff Rhys in the DJ booth, the utterly variegated crowd (once a year gig goers, the everyday bunch and a whole lot more), the extortionately priced t-shirts contrasting with the uniquely underground atmosphere. It’s welcome to the alternate dimension of the Super Furry Animals.
The band have taken a hands-on approach to this Clwb Ifor Bach residency. Notions of support acts are cast aside as Gruff takes his place in the booth to play a potent set of esoterica by way of a warm-up. Not many spot him up there, sitting alone with fuzzy hair emerging over headphones, but it’s a remarkable image of rock’n'roll subversion, a man preparing us for an altogether rawer onslaught.
With minimum fuss the music stops and Gruff trickles out through the crowd and onto the stage, and as the band start playing it’s a case of waiting for the magic to rain. I’m not a person steeped in the total SFA output, just one who knows enough to recognise that I should be. Soon, the place is set alight.
The band fire off opening tracks in a way that evokes library-rock-disco, Gruff trying on a face-consuming Power Rangers mask and singing out of its ear in grand style. Rings Around The World blasts in an exquisitely carefree manner, its melody and quirkiness finding a profound mark. Lines between rock and pop blur in the haze as wonder builds at Gruff’s earthy poignancy and humour. It’s a pop collage in robust shards that Gruff’s faux-contemporaries could hardly comprehend.
God Show Me Magic and Do Or Die fly out with fuzzy charm, spinning like a carousel in the Cardiff night, and as the gig comes to an end with a huge rendition of The Man Don’t Give A Fuck, crowd pogoing in unison so that the floor shakes, we are again left to comprehend a national treasure. Scotland had Cutler, England has Blackwell. Wales has Gruff. Terrific.