Friday, 11 November 2011

Gruff Rhys, The Cockpit, Leeds

With three albums and now the inaugural Welsh Music Prize under his belt, Super Furry Animal front man, Gruff Rhys, is starting to establish himself as a solo artist of some note. As he strides out onto the stage this evening - bedecked in a crumpled white suit - Rhys appears relaxed and eager to entertain. Backed by the cracking support band Y Niwl, Rhys' thick tones help whisk the audience away into a world of myths, legends, car journeys and soap operas. The use of projected images and comedy 'applause' placards add to Rhys' eccentricity, which is lapped up by the small but devoted crowd. Live, songs from the new album, Hotel Shampoo, such as Honey All Over and Shark Ridden Waters, are a little scruffy around the edges, but this adds to the DIY feel to the gig. However, it is the enthusiastically received finale of Candylion's Skylon - including a mid-song recap 'pilot foils the bomber, gets the girl' - that shows off Rhys' skill as a songwriter and performer. Tonight was not about the full-on, psychedelic, soundclash that we have come to expect from a SFA show, but a stripped back, sometime shambolic, but often mesmerising performance from Wales' new national treasure. 

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