It seems unfair that the Super Furry Animals were lumped in with the late 90's indie scene. Amid what were - with hindsight at least - a large array of mediocrities and a few bands whose unquestioned quality was generally equally matched by their derivativeness, the Super Furry Animals were genuine oddities, even leaving aside the faint-exoticness that their Welshness produced in sheltered metropolitan youth. Their music quickly evolved from the relatively straight up indie-rock of 'Fuzzy Logic' to the bizzaro-world pop of 'Radiator', where songs about mythical Mexican goat eating beasts seem quite normal. Live they were equally off the wall; convincing Mogwai to parade on stage in animal suits and (allegedly) arranging for a camper van to be driven into a mosh pit being particular highlights.

So it seemed an obvious choice in 1999 to eschew their London gig and head to Cardiff for what was - we all assured each other - certain to be an amazing hometown show for the band at the Cardiff International Arena. The fact the show was billed as 'Mash Up The CIA' was just the cherry on the cake.

The band were riding high off the back of their 'Guerrilla' album, which had come out earlier their year and showcased their diverse – and sometimes divisive – randomness. From the oddball 'Wherever I Lay My Phone (That's My Home)' to the heads down rock of 'Do or Die' and 'Night Vision' via the delicate love song of 'Fire in My Heart', the only thing clear about 'Guerrilla' was you never knew where it was going to go next.

Attending a lot of SFA gigs from that period means they do tend to blur together over a decade later. Generous sampling of Cardiff's finest brewery Brains didn't help (but was not avoidable, given the company's “It's Brains You Need” phrase appearing on the first SFA album). So precise details of the night are somewhat sketchy. But the surround sound system did its job, sending swirling currents of noise around the arena and adding extra weirdness to the already quite-far-out-for-indie Super Furries' set. It certainly added a decent extra kick to the wonderfully inevitable version of 'The Man Don't Give a Fuck', a stomping shout along of epic proportions. And it added even more to the equally inevitable and equally wonderful degeneration of that song into a thumping piece of techno noise, that to this day is a staple of any good Super Furries gig.

And as a sweaty, slightly deafened, and very much musically sated horde spewed out into the night, all that remained was to catch the last train back to London, leaving the Super Furry Animals behind in a quite definitely mashed up CIA.

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Commenting On: Super Furry Animals, International Arena, Cardiff, December 1999 - Gig of a Lifetime

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