Packed like cattle, rearing our heads to sneak a peak of the stage as the lights dim, Super Furry Animals emerge one-by-one in head-to-toe boiler suits. Serendaded by the bleeps and bursts of ‘Slow Life’, Gruff Rhys and co return to a festival that they’ve long enjoyed a unique relationship with after a seven year hiatus for the band.
Never too far from the reaches of irreverance, Rhys holds cue cards to aid the audience, unless they’d forgotten, to prompt the audience: ‘applause’, ‘louder’… ‘ape shit’. Without having to incessantly address the crowd and pander to the pressure of saying that most irritating of phrases (‘Hello Glasto’), they connect with the incandescence of the Park Stage audience in their typically aloof demeanour. It is this same ethic of no compromise and comfort in their own skin that has kept them so relevant over the past two decades.
The set is sewn together by elongated passages and pieces from 2001’s ‘Rings Around the World’, creating a colourful tapestry of which each picture is bright and theatrical. It’s that ongoing conflict of their nonplussed manner and the depth of the material that enables the group to be so entrancing.. In Rhys’ evolving and de-evolving guitars, a flurry of unintelligable synthesisers or regular ten minute soundscapes, they have a spectrum of sound that you’d expect to hear in the early hours at Cafe Oto or on a William Basinski tape than from a band on the Park Stage.
Referencing their 2005 Glastonbury set when the rain stopped and the sun emerged during their song, ‘Hello Sunshine’, before playing the piece, Rhys says that if the same thing happened tonight, it would be “bit disturbing”. They respond by leading us to with the instantly recognisable and scuzzy ‘Receptacle for the Respectable’.
Whether its grooming the crowd through a Daft Punk-teasing Red Power Rangers’ helmet for their bi-polar hit ‘Juxtapozed With U’, bringing us to our knees with the sleeping giant ‘Mountain People’, or grabbing us by the shoulders and screaming ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ accompanied by monochrome visuals of Trotsky, Lenin and Stalin, it’s a dynamic set that transports the audience from Somerset and takes them on a journey to the nooks and crannies of our world and beyond. As they emerge in giant biblical robes accompanied by large, vibrant foreign animals, you start to ponder how rare a talent the Super Furry Animals are. If they don’t continue to play shows or make another record, there aren’t any groups capable of stepping into the niche they’ve ingeniously crafted.