Music review: Gruff Rhys, Saint Luke's, Glasgow

Gruff Rhys’s music is as transporting and imaginative as it comes, writes Fiona Shepherd

Gruff Rhys, St Luke's, Glasgow ****

Since his days fronting Super Furry Animals, Gruff Rhys has been partial to a witty visual concept. On his current tour, his trademark cue cards, prompting audience reactions, were back in play. Meanwhile, he and his superb band – drummer Kliph Scurlock, bassist Huw V Williams, pianist Osian Gwynedd and electronics wiz Gruff ab Arwel – were clad in utilitarian white as employees of fantasy company GR Logistics.

This was simply some extra sauce on the side, as Rhys’s music is as transporting and imaginative as it comes. On this outing, he was bold enough to play new album Sadness Sets Me Free in its entirety – but not in order because “sometimes the new is too much”.

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The new actually dovetailed with the old as he and his compadres set sail on the gorgeous tumbling piano of the title track, the choice Seventies power pop licks and brief bursts of acid guitar on Celestial Candyfloss, the mellotron groove and choice falsetto notes of Loan Your Loneliness, the eager, bouncy Silver Linings (Lead Balloons), with its Flaming Lips-like gleeful momentum, lovely lush sounds of I Tendered My Resignation and psych rock reverie Taranau, his recent collaboration with Afrika Express.

Last year, Rhys jumped the gun in releasing the soundtrack to a film, The Almond & the Seahorse, which has yet to get a full release. When it does, the end credits will be graced by the glassy piano and plaintive chorus of Amen. Former single American Interior was another wistful gem which burned off into the sunset.

As the set glided by, there was a brief skit where the band shredded notes bearing audience members’ emotional baggage “in the key of F”. Consider us cleansed. Instructional placards were waved, urging the crowd to escalate their appreciation from “ape shit” to “wild abandon” but this show was more a channel for total sonic satisfaction.

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