Super Furry Animals Glasgow Barrowland, Sat 16 Oct ****
When you get right down to it, when you strip away all the drug cliches ('They're like ELO on acidllll’) and lazily racist Welsh ‘gags', this much becomes clear: Super Furry Animals, the maverick kings of the new psychedelia (whatever that is), possess one of the most instantly recognisable sounds in UK pop.
Glam-stompin', psyche-poppin', agit-psychedelic pranksters, SFA have been wowing kids and critics alike since the release of debut platter Fuzzy Logic in '97, while never quite managing to vault into the big league. The reason for this remains, like Cerys Matthews's dress-sense, one of pop's great mysteries. Perhaps it's their lack of visual identity; maybe they need a charismatic Liam-esque front-bloke rather than Gruyff Rhys, a man so stoned he appears to be turning into an Easter Island statue. Still, the delectable selection-box of almost-hits to which we're treated tonight more than makes up for the charisma deficit.
Their arrival, in a rumbling monsoon of air-raid strobes and apocalyptic FX, is one of the most effective live intros I've ever witnessed. The sense of excitement is as tangible as a brick-wall. That it isn't a gargantuan anti- climax when SFA - a bunch of T-shirts with guitars - do eventually appear is testament to the bowel-quaking power of their muse. The Banana Splits space-boogie of ‘Bad Behaviour' sounds fantastique, like Status Quo with an idea, or Hawkwind without the flatulence. ‘Something 4 The Weekend', though, one of their finest songs, stops the momentum dead. Usually so vivid and bouncy, tonight it sounds halting, uncertain and stiffer than a shot of whisky. Perhaps
they're tiring of their older material.
Better is ’T he International Language Of Screaming', a lunatic scramble through the Barracudas’ trash that has
Caught by the fuzzy: Super Furry Animals
us marvelling at their seemingly inexhaustible quiver of melodies and Gruyff's noble attempts at a Beach Boys- esque falsetto plainly beyond his range. Indeed Gruyff's nasal, thick-tongued vocals are one of the band's most distinctive facets. He sings like he's got a canoe in his mouth, lending his often obliquely poetic lyrics an even stranger. more alien edge. Yet when he croons nursery anthems like 'Fire In My Heart' you never doubt his sincerity: if there are campfires on Tattooine, this is what they sing round 'em.
Though not quite as infallible as many claim (they basically have two song types — the ace uptempo ones and the twinkling. nice-but-samey slow ones), at their best SFA crackle with a wild invention that shames their peers. Indeed, it’s their smoky insouciance, their apparent effortlessness in delivering classics like 'Godl Show Me Magic’ and the towering 'T his Man Don't Give A Fuck'. that impresses most. Grooving on the edges of greatness, if SPA never manage to create their magnum opus, they will at least have one of the most delicious Greatest Hits of the 21st Century. Yum. (Paul Whitelaw)
ROCK REVIEW Skunk Anansie
Glasgow: Barrowland, Tue 13 Oct ****
Skin games: Skunk Anansi
The crowd’s roar when Skin, Skunk Anansie's diminutive dynamo bounds onstage, enveloped in a voluminous parka, makes it clear that she’s the star of the show. Before you can say 'God, isn't she tinyl', the shiny-bonced frontwoman's leaping around as if possessed by the spirit of a particularly energetic Michael Jordan, launching into a ferocious rendition of ’Charlie Big Potato', the first single from their latest album Post Orgasmic Chi/l.
And so continues the sweaty, fast and furious 90 minutes into which the cream of the band's back catalogue is squeezed. Chunks of funk-infused metal pound out, topped with lyrics that not so much embrace a subject, as shake it firmly by the throat. They're interspersed with equally impressive soulful, heartstring-yanking ballads.
Polished yet passionate, and far from being a bunch of music making automatons creating nothing more than mindless thrash, Skunk Anansie plough an individual musical furrow, made all the more distinct by Skin’s vocal acrobatics. Her featherweight frame belies her heavyweight voice, which effortlessly soars to the rafters, travelling from the depths of a
powerful growl to the dizzying heights of a honey-tipped croon. This awesome vocal range may be the reason for the schizophrenic stage persona that satisfies both extremes. One minute she's a hyperactive tortured soul, face contorted as if in agony, slapping her head, beating her breast and waving her arms in the air, while the next she’s a coquette, flashing Cheshire cat grins and wiggling her impossibly slender hips. All of which leaves compadres Cass, Ace and Mark looking static in comparison.
Understandably, the crowd laps this up. Putty in their malevolent choir mistress’ hands, the many-armed, many-legged pulsating mass chucks itself about and bellows along to chorus after chorus — 'Hedonism', the ode to the perils of surrendering to lust being a particular fave.
The finish comes in the shape of a stage invasion — well, not so much an invasion as an invitation. Skin plucks girls from the fray, fills the stage with them, and together they jostle for space with the rest of the band. A fittineg femi, rock 'n' roll finale.
live reviews MUSIC
Stellar Glasgow: King Tut's, Fri 15 Oct.
Dust off your PVC corset, for chick rawk is not dead. Stellar deal in fiercely confident, glossy anthems that wouldn't be out of place in a stadium setting (although they might need a better soundperson than Tut's can muster). Annette Henley’s powerful, agile voice leads a sound that's not a million miles from mainstream heavy metal (remember that?), but calls in on Radiohead and Placebo on the way. They’ll win few friends amid the style bar set, but their new single 'Tear It Down’ should quicken the pulse of many an unreconstructed rocker. (Hannah McGill)
Gallus Edinburgh: Cas Rock, Fri 15 Oct.
Is there really room in this tiny little world of ours for another band that sounds like The Levellers? Local folk rockers Gallus seem to think so, as they plough through a set so derivative of the crusty icons you could close your eyes and smell the scrumpy.
While the band do their stuff competently enough, and the presence of an electric fiddle player gives the sound some depth, it's the singer who grabs the limelight. This turns out not to be a good thing, as his air of self- importance is at odds with the band's mediocre sound. (Doug Johnstone)
Rarefaction Glasgow: Bar Bacchus, Sat 16 Oct.
Playing at the new Firehorse Foundations pre-club, Rarefaction come as something of a surprise after Shu Hirata's funk-house set. While it is tempting to join those dance music purists who dismiss the jazzier end of the drum & bass spectrum as more appropriate for the coffee table than the dancefloor, the band prove that it is possible to produce jazz-inflected breaks without resorting to over-slick cliches and familiar beats. The group's ability to hold the attention of their audience is thanks largely to the sequencer-tight live drumming, which keeps heads nodding during the looser saxophone meanderings. Not, then, music that will change your life, but Rarefaction might just change your mind about one of the more sterile sub-genres of music for dancing. (Jack Mottram)
21 Oct-4 Nov 1999 THE U“ 47