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Event Review: Super Furry Animals
The Abbey Pub, Chicago, IL
By August Forte, St@tic
(more articles from this author)
2002-05-16
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Photo: Nita McDaniel
The first generation caused such a sensation
Gave all an elation
But I'm in deep space 9
Hitting wormholes all of the time
-"Fragile Happiness"

Touring after the release and universal adulation of one of the truly epic albums of the 21st century can be tough. The recent Rings Around the World introduced the Welsh group Super Furry Animals to a whole new audience, and now the young band is in the unenvied position of having to test this groundbreaking material live. On a rainy night in Chicago, the Furries took to the Abbey Pub stage with a rare determination. The five piece left the spotlight an hour and a half later as victorious men.

Backed by creepy/sexy projections (some reminiscent of the playful cover images from Rings... ), Super Furry Animals introduced the set with the space rock of "Stooges" before fading into "(Drawing) Rings Around the World" and its next century take on surf music. The appropriate (and appropriately fuzzed-out) "Sidewalk Serfer Girl" followed, and "Reseptacle for the Respectable" was an early indicator of the Burt Bacharach jones that would be exercised for the rest of the evening.

The liquid majesty of "It's Not the End of the World?" was a first-half highlight as it showcased the band's sheer instrumental power, somehow finding truly modern applications for guitar/bass/piano/drums and synth. On a more stripped-down (but equally adventurous) front, "Fragile Happiness" was strummed acoustic heaven, unmatched in pure loviness until the mid-set triumph of "Presidential Suite" (another sly nod to Bacharach).

The electro folk rock of "Run! Christian Run!" offered a nice counterpiont to the giddy experimentation of "No Sympathy," while "Juxtapozed with U" married bard Burt and his ultra-lounge melodies to lead singer Gruff Rhys's effects-altered robot vocals. From then on, older material dominated and, ultimately, closed the set. An encore, including the poli-punk of "The Man Don't Fuck," left the crowd wanting more, even as each band member left the stage. As bodies moved outward, the digital mantra of video and sound looped on and on.

And so, Super Furry Animals drive on to another US city to straddle another stage---one foot stretching into the past; heads in the ozone; another audience to be left in rapture.


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