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SFA US Tour April 2002

THE OBSESSIVES GUIDE TO 10 DAYS
ON THE ROAD WITH THE SFA

Since I'm still working on my minute-by-minute recap of my trip to Dublin to see the Super Furries, I thought it might be beneficial to just hit the highights of my recent six-shows-in-ten-days sojourn. Lets get right to it: BEST GIG: Without a doubt, Irving Plaza in New York City. After seeing them in Boston two nights before, it was easy to see the band raised their game a notch for the crowd in the Big Apple. The jam at the end of "Recepticle" was extended and extra nasty. Same for "No Sympathy." This was easily one of the loudest gigs I had ever been to, rivalling the gigs I saw on the first US tour from Oasis(back when Mark Coyle did their live sound). A friend of mine works at Irving Plaza and she said that they sold more ear plugs that night than they had in the previous 6 months. I don't doubt it. Backstage was a complete zoo after the gig. People had come from all over to talk to the guys. I've heard them play "Calimero" dozens of time, but in New York, I heard the BEST VERSION OF CALIMERO EVER. Towards the end of the song, Gruff started screaming "I fear no chicken tonight!" in time with the music. It was enthralling and intense. This is such a perfect song for late in the set, it kicks the intensity back up to 10 and gets everyone's attention. I just love it.

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Guto: Did you get my Star Wars strap in the picture? Cool!!

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Bunf and Guto in deep concentration

The next night was Philly, which won the honor for BEST AFTERSHOW HANG. The band was still pumped from the NYC show and their gig at the TLA was almost as good. Usually backstage at an SFA gig will consist of Bunf, Guto and occasionally Daf all hanging out, drinking and smoking and just shooting the shit. Gruff will go do the lead singer thing and chat and snap photos with the fans and Cian will drop in a for a few minutes every now and then. Philly, however, was different. One by one the band would go down and sign some CDs for fans but mostly they were all hanging out in the dressing room. Unlike New York, the dressing room wasnt filled with people looking to drink the bands beer(just me and my friend Chad). It was notable because you rarely find everyone in the band in the same room at once after the gig. We had quite a few lively discussions and just shot the shit about all sorts of stuff and I also tried to teach the guys the brilliance that is Yuengling Beer(a local Philly brew). I was doing my usual begging for "Frisbee" and other old gems and they were actually listening to me. At least, it seemed that way. Bunf moved to have "Ysbediou Huelog" added to the set, and I quickly agreed. I told Gruff that once I wrote out the perfect SFA setlist which was 43 songs long, and to my surprise he said "Really? You have to show it to me." Typical Gruff. Since everyone was in the same room, I went around and made each one of them promise to NEVER, EVER take "Calimero" out of the set. I hope they didnt think I was kidding.

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Backstage crew in Boston

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Cian makes an appearance backstage!!

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That's the camera trained on the turntables hanging in front of Bunf

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Athens GA: Arrrggghhhh...sunlight

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Yes...Daf was there too

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Bunfy the Guitar Player

The crowds for the gigs continued to amaze the band every night. In most places in the country, they usually play to 50-75 people a night. Now they were up to a few hundred a night. Gruff was fairly talkative at the gigs...His BEST SONG INTRODUCTION was in Boston and New York, when he introduced "Presidential Suite" by saying "This song is about the last millenium." Brilliant, and yet again, typical Gruff. No matter what anyone tells you, most of a bands time on tour, especially in a foreign country, is spent sitting around watching movies or playing Playstation. The BEST MOVIE SEEN ON THE TOUR BUS was American Pie 2, narrowly edging out Men Of Honor and Assasins(which for some reason is on Cinemax every 4 hours). The Osbournes were also a bus favorite. Of course, with all the good there must be a little bad. My BIGGEST DISAPOINTMENT on tour was not getting a good picture of Gruff, Guto and Bunf holding their guitars above their heads at the end of "Receptacle." Its such a rock n roll moment.

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BEST MINDFUCK YET

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Gruff "It was a carrot night tonight!"

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Gruff and his wacky noisemaker

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Gruff: front and center

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Bunf takes a pull from his lager

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Spotlight on Gruff

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Bunf and Guto on the 1's and 2's

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Gruff selecting the next track for the wheels of steel

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Ummm...not quite sure what Bunf is doing here....

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Guto and yours truly

Another great thing about following the band around and having the access to them that I did is that you oocasionally get to do things like sit in and listen to soundcheck. The BEST SOUNDCHECK was in Boston, mostly because it was the first time I had heard them since my trip to Dublin last year. I just stood there, leaning on the bar, with a huge grin on my face. My friend Emily and I were getting were getting a private concert. Seeing it just got me more excited for the show that night. I also caught soundcheck in Philly and unfortunately i was caught without my camera both times. Arrrggghhh. There were no costumes or any extra musicians for this tour, but we were still treated to a new wrinkle in pre gig activities. A camera was suspended over the band turntables so everyone could get a glimpse of backstage. Various signs were shown underneath. The BEST PRE-GIG SIGN SHOWN ON THE VIDEO SCREEN was a tie: "Think 12 seconds ahead" from Boston and "Resist Vonda Sheppard" From NYC and again in Atlanta (Honorable Mention: - "Go Celtics!" - I wrote that one in Boston.) The new album was represented well in their set. Except for Mwng, their other releases were slotted for one song a piece. Nonetheless, many times during the set I would think to myself that the band was at their live peak. The recent show I saw in Dublin last year was the single best gig I had ever seen them do and this tour definitely lived up to those lofty heights. It was kinda like seeing Radiohead on their last tour... A band playing brand new material with the stage show and sound system they want. It was incredible to behold. The BEST NEW SONG was "Run! Christian, Run!" The slow build, the haunting harmonica and big finish...it was beautiful each and every night. During the last song of the night, the band would stop and Gruff would thank everyone for coming and ask Bunf for his words of advice for everyone. In Boston we heard the BEST WORDS OF ADVICE FROM BUNF: "Um....Dont start a nu-metal band."

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Guto gets in the groove

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Warp Speed Ahead

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Cian is always hanging back in the shadows

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Gruff - The Man in Black

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Best picture I took on the whole trip

In contrast, the SECOND COOLEST MOMENT OF THE TOUR is easy...getting to see the Furries at their US TV debut performing on the Conan O'Brien show. Chalk that one up to being in the right place at the right time. The COOLEST MOMENT ON THE TOUR was on the last night in Atlanta. When I got there, I was told that Gruff wanted to see me backstage. I thought this a bit weird and almost didn't venture back there. The way I see it, the time before a band goes on stage is their time. I have no problem going backstage after a gig and drinking all their beer, but the time before a gig is their own so they can get in that mental space they have need to play the set that night. In no way do I belong back there. So against my better judgement I slipped back there and spoke to Gruff. He apologized to me for making me listen to the same set every night and said they would try to add "Ice Hocky Hair" to the set that night. I was touched beyond words. The band has done cool things for me before(in Dublin, they played my all time favorite SFA song Citizens Band and dedicated it to me) and I always bug them to change the set, but nothing like this. I told Gruff that there was nothing else I would rather do than see them play each and every night(hence me following them around the East Coast) and although I always ask them to change it, I really couldn't care less what the set was. With the elaborate stage show the band was putting on, it was easy to see that its virtually impossible for them to change things up as the videos would have to be changed as well. Still, it was great to be acknowledged like that. They didnt play "Ice Hocky Hair" that night, and I didn't care a bit, but they did later in the tour...so to everyone at that show: You're welcome. Cheers! Thanks Furries, you were great hosts as always!

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