Pared back but still with the hits.
Not for nothing are the Super Furry Animals the band this writer has seen live more than any other band as the shows are usually a combination of great visuals and tremendous music. Whilst there was no doubt that the music would be top-notch, entering the Barras and realising there was to be no video screens or additional musicians hit hard at first.
At times like this, artists have been known to state a preference to get back to their roots or to connect more strongly with their fans as the reason for the downsizing but given the recent record label change, the lack of promotion for the new album and just the feeling that not enough people know or care enough about the band these days, it was a worrying sight to see the new stage set-up. Not as worrying as the patches of space in the venue though, when you consider that the reformed Shed Seven have two sold out nights in Glasgow to come, its a crime of the highest order hat the Furries are playing to a venue that had so much space.
One early indication of the pared down style of the show came in 'Northern Lights.' A single from the 'Guerilla' album, in previous live incarnations, its presence was augmented with calypso drums and horn sections, evoking sunshine images and a far-away sound. In the hands of the band alone, it became an understated guitar-led number and stripped from all the superfluous activities, managed to make a greater impact than on previous showings, proving that sometimes less is more and that not everything was poorer due to the bands downsizing.
The first half of the set was filled with new material and some of the slower numbers from the bands history, with the odd favourite slipping. One track that is a new number and also a favourite appears to be 'Runaway', the recent single from the 'Hey Venus' record. Capturing a strong Motown feel in its structure and backing vocals, its early inclusion was a highlight which was followed by versions of 'Down A Different River' and 'Resceptacle For The Respectable' hitting the mark, as they always do.
With the band claiming old age as the need to take a break, the promise of a greatest hits section after the break was more than enough reason to cheer the band off and on-stage because a Furries greatest hits section is bound to have a bundle of classic, no matter the selection. Even when the band were off-stage, the sound of 'Smokin'' being piped over the PA was enough to have the crowd singing and dancing, so you can only imagine what the reaction to the band playing the hits were.
Given that the encore contained 'Slowlife' (with the Power Rangers helmet still appearing, so its not as if the band had completely abandoned the visual element), 'Juxtaposed Wit U' and 'Hello Sunshine', there were more than enough singalong upbeat moments to keep everyone happy. With a few tracks from the bands debut album slipping in as well, the full spectrum of the bands output, with more than a decade of hits at their disposal now, it was an excellent second half of the evening.
Inevitably, 'The Man Dont Give A Fuck' was wheeled out, giving the venue to chance to rant and rave and excessively use the F-word but it wasnt the last song of the night and there was no techno freakout at the end of it. Perhaps the band were true to their word in growing old but the lack of the dance section at the end of their traditional set-closer was a change that was unforseen. 'Keep The Cosmic Trigger Happy' ended the set on a chirpy up-beat number and as the audience drifted out at the end of the set, the sense of enjoyment but the realisation that the band are going through a stage of change was unmistakable.