About 30 seconds into his criminally underattended small-club gig in Vancouver (Canucks hockey, summer day, early show), Gruff Rhys is making everyone laugh.
The scruffy furry animal from the Super Furry Animals cracked wise about how the show will unfold: that he will be play some songs, and he hopes that everyone can figure out where he is. He is the only one on stage. “I’m over here, under the light, by the piano” and says that he’ll later be joined by the guys in his opening act, Welsh band Y Niwl, and they will also play the songs with him. And that those songs will be about archeology and sharks (“Court of King Arthur”, which rocked, and “Shark Ridden Waters”, which more softly rolled).
And then he made a joke about Phil Collins having the dubious distinction of being the only solo artist to have recently broken up. Then he put a small 7 inch record on his small record player and away we went and into the music, everyone with smiles on their faces…
Which, really, is a lovely way to enjoy a gig, particularly if your host and his awesome Welsh accent continue to make you laugh with running narratives and explanations of his Welsh-language songs. In “Pwdin Wy” (“a nickname, like sweetie”) all things are groovy between our two lovers, but, says Rhys, in the “predictably named follow-up ‘Pwdin Wy 2′, , it all goes horribly wrong, they break up and it results in a death” (or something). People booed sympathetically, but we were still smiling…right through to ”Skylon!”, an epic tale (and I do mean EPIC, the thing is about 14 minutes long and BRILLIANT) about a guy, a mediocre actress, a bombed plane and and lovechild called Fly.
And let’s not forget the cardboard signs he held up as cues (one said “Woah” on one side, the other side”Applause”, while a second said sign had “Thank You” and “The End” on it), and Rhys’ explanation that the reason he had velcroed a a curved extension onto the body of his acoustic guitar to change its shape was “because all my friends had guitars that looked more rock.”
A gig where the songs sound great and a singer who makes you smile? Woah. Applause. Thank You, Gruff Rhys. The End. \m/
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