Super Furry Animals Café Campus, Montreal QC - February 6, 2004

Wow. What used to be one of the UK's most underappreciated bands drew a hefty crowd to their latest local gig, which was easily the best (and best attended) of the band's three Montreal shows. The room wasn't quite as jammed as it was when Supergrass blew in last winter, but both bands have proven that Britpop acts can "break America" if they stick around and stay beautiful long enough. But while Supergrass have coasted along with capable rock albums, never quite matching their 1995 debut, their Welsh counterparts have built on their punk and sunny pop foundation with electronic, psychedelic and orchestral twists. Despite the excessive balladry on recent albums, Super Furry Animals deserve as much recognition for their songwriting, experimentation and album construction as e-rock overlords Radiohead. And as the band took the stage to the beat of a pre-programmed creation, Pete Fowler's adorable animated monsters and other colourful abstractions began to flood the backdrop. First song up was "Slow Life," from the band's latest disc, Phantom Power; its smooth shifts between beat tapestries and breezy pop showed off their multi-talents while the dark lyrics forecast the Bush/Blair-bashing that overflowed later on. Next came recent gems "Rings Around the World" and "Golden Retriever," and long-time fans were rewarded with four Britpop classics. The ballads flirted with country rock, creepy prog and fiery images, and the angrier tracks, "Out of Control" and "The Man Don't Give a Fuck," came with footage of Bush, Blair and night-vision scenes from both Gulf Wars, along with the message, "Tous les gouvernements sont des menteurs et des tueurs." (I wonder how that went down in Nashville.) After a dance party intermission, the band returned in head-to-toe hair costumes, reprising "The Man…" with gusto and leaving us all with a super-furry afterglow.