Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Hey hey hey on Wye!

Courtesy of Hannah, my lovely housemate, I went to the Hay-on-Wye festival for the first time in my life on Saturday. The drive in itself was a memorable experience, at high speed down twisting roads with the light fading and gloomy clouds massing on the horizon. At one point I felt like the passenger in John Hawkes' Travesty but then I remembered how pretentious it is to identify with characters in underrated novels, so I stopped. Just in time...

We attended a gig by Gruff Rhys, the Super Furry Animals fellah, and it was a thoroughly excellent musical experience. Gruff played songs from his catchy and imaginative Candylion album, including a stripped down version of the superb 'Skylon', but the highlight was the avant garde coda to 'Cycle of Violence' that went on for ages and ages and used all sorts of strange and cunning sound effects. It only takes two musicians to make a big sound. I'm a recent convert to the Super Furry Animals. I originally assumed they were just another Welsh rock group like Catatonia or the Stereophonics, but in fact their music is closer in spirit and tone to Gorky's Zygotic Mynci or even the 'Canterbury Sound' of the early Soft Machine, Kevin Ayers or Caravan... Elaborately arranged, multi-layered, whimsical soundscapes. Truly nice!

Through the beating rain we drove away and ended up in Cardiff where we stayed with two people named Andy and Summer. The following day we sneaked past the barriers of the Opera House and explored the deserted building on tiptoe. It was interesting to view the impressive interior in silence. Then we heard footsteps -- official rather than ghostly -- and I abruptly learned how dead chivalry really is. Andy and myself exchanged glances and suddenly we bolted for the exit, leaving Hannah to her fate, but we jammed together in the doorway like a pair of custard-bloated cowards... Serves us right!

I saw the clip for Candylion in YouTube and thus discovered Gruff Rhys. Loved it! Those guys must be terrific in a live gig.
I only discovered Gruff Rhys and the Super Furries recently too. Yes they are terrific live!
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