Tuesday 1 January 2008

SFA Hurray! December 31 2007, Royal Festival Hall

What would be an enjoyable way to spend Neu Years Eve, hmm? How about with your favourite band in one of your favourite venues? And so it came to pass that we attended Super Furry Animals ‘Best New Years Eve Party…Ever’ at the Royal Festival Hall.

In 2007, SFA regained their rightful place as my tip-top-most favest band, thanks to their mighty pop odyssey ‘Hey Venus!’ and some fearsome live action at the Roundhouse. Tonight I am on my thirty-fourth Super Furry gig. I loves 'em.

And the Royal Festival Hall I also love; its optimistic ‘yay! we won the war and Britain be ace innit’ 1950s architecture and ‘we are the mods’ interior design. I love the idea that the ‘ball and net’ pattern for the carpet was completed by mistake when an apple was casually rested on the blueprints. Or the fact that when the RFH was refurbished last year the architects drew a little fox on their drawing up in the rafters ‘cos a family of foxes moved in during the renovation work (it’s true, I’ve seen the plans). I love the way I can roam around, up and down the stairs onto all the levels, gazing out the windows or leaning off the balconies marvelling at the (quite choppy and dangerous-looking) river and my city expanding enticingly in either direction. Don’t even get me started on the wonderousness of the main auditorium. Anyway, that's closed tonight, and the bands play downstairs in the more knees-up-friendly Ballroom. You have to celebrate New Year in the Ballroom really, don’t you?

We are treated to not one, not two, but three sets from the Super Furries, interspersed with two charming riots courtesy of Deerhoof and a spot of wandering about the Festy Hall visiting the ‘VIP Starf*ckers Blah’ (complete with red carpeted entrance and fake paparazzi flashing in yer face), the Old Man Pub, spotting olde Furries memorabilia (horses from the ‘Phantom Power’ stage set, a model of that teddy bear with it’s head in a vice, an ancient banner ca. the first album) and peering at Pete Fowler doing a drawing (‘Can you guess what it is yet?’ ‘Er, a Prog-rock Viking yeti monster with skull effects-pedals?’)

9pm: The first Furry set takes us on a journey of ‘ooh! they haven’t played this in years’ oldies and oddities, including 'Ymaelodi A'r Ymylon', 'Torra Fy Ngwallt Yn Hir' (personal faves for various insane reasons) a dreamy ‘Demons’ - with the crowd joining Gruff in happy ‘ba ba bas’ in lieu of the brass solo, ‘Hometown Unicorn’, a fab new song – the name and gist of which has been lost to vodka consumption, and ending with oh joy! ‘Ice Hocky Hair’.

10.30pm: A set similar to the one played to great effect on the Furries recent tour. I’ve been listening to ‘Hey Venus!’ a lot, and so it is with great glee that we greet the opening ‘Gateway Song’ and its swooning slide into ‘Run Away’. I frolic about merrily to the stuttering electro funk-up of ‘Baby Ate My Eightball’ and the multi-armed Eastern waveathon ‘Into The Night’. Hurrah! What a fantastic time we’re all having. Ending on an optimistic note to last us 'til midnight we get ‘Keep The Cosmic Trigger Happy’ with Bunf waving a placard that reads ‘Keep It Real’. With his crazy hermit hair and beard combo, he doesn’t look at all like a crazy old street preacher, oh no.

The countdown to midnight sees us watching a film projected onto the back of the stage. In it, SFA are riding around en route to the RFH in a golf cart. Then, as the clock hits twelve, here they are trundling triumphantly onto the stage in the self-same golf cart and cranking into 'Slow Life'. Gruff dons his Transformers helmet and hands out ‘party favours’ to the front row. He plonks into my hand one of those little kaleidoscope thingies that make you see the world in lots of refracted sections – like a fly’s eye. (side note: I once gave my friend K one of these for Christmas – she showed it to Bobby Gillespie who peered through it and announced, ‘It’s like being on Ecstasy!’ Doh!)

Midnight: This is the big old party, dance and holler set packed with the biggest, most rampagingest Furry songs for the happy crowd to bellow along to (not that they haven’t been doing this before), e.g. '(Drawing) Rings Around The World', ‘Golden Retriever’, ‘God! Show Me Magic’, ‘Hello Sunshine’ (how sweet to hear a room full of folk angelically chorusing ‘I’m a minger. You’re a minger too.’) and many more that are now lost in a haze of Grapefruit Absolut.

During ‘Receptacle For The Respectable’ Gruff favours Doritos as his crunchy percussion instrument (past percussion choices have included chewing on celery or carrots). I know they are Doritos as I am showered with the things when Gruff flings the left-overs into the crowd. Not the politest way to pass round nibbles. Or the most effective, as the tasty corn-based snax are instantly crushed to minute crumbs by our feet joyously stomping to the booming death-techno bit kicking in.

Of course the final song has to be ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ which, surprisingly, seems a tad underplayed. No matter though as we’ve had a huge dose of Super Furry goodness to inoculate us against the woes of coming back to earth on a chilly January morn, and look! here is an assortment of aliens, golden retrievers, pandas, etc lining up on stage as wobbling techno beats our cheery ears. Happy New Year!

No comments: