Gruff Rhys Preview – 18/09/14
St. George’s Church, Kemptown
Thursday 18th September 2014.
£16 / £18
Over his 20-year career Gruff Rhys has established himself not just as an accomplished songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, but also as a storyteller, using music to tease out and relay bewitching accounts of individual lives, often real historical figures who hold a particular fascination for him.
His eccentric 2010 documentary Separado saw him traverse Argentina and Chile in search of his long lost uncle, unearthing and piecing together the story of the first Welsh settlers in Patagonia in the process.
Following in the same vein, his latest project, American Interior, documents the remarkable true story of John Evans, another distant relative of Rhys’s who travelled from Snowdonia to the American heartland in the late 18th century, in search of a mythical Welsh-speaking Native American tribe. Rhys follows in Evans’ footsteps, making his own explorations through ‘an investigative concert tour’. The culmination of this was the release of American Interior as a film, a book, an app and an album, the latter forming the epic soundtrack to the Welsh explorer’s fantastical journey across the heart of the unmapped American continent.
Rhys’ music-making career has seen him take many guises. He was frontman of experimental rock band the Super Furry Animals, formed electro-pop outfit Neon Neon with Boom Bip, and has released a number of solo records. Across all of these projects he has maintained a distinctive voice and unconventional style, celebrating his Welsh identity (much of his music, both solo material and releases with the Super Furries, features lyrics entirely in Welsh), creating surreal worlds through concept albums, and never shying away from gently tongue-in-cheek performances that often leave the audience both baffled and charmed.
St George’s is an ideal venue for Rhys’ idiosyncratic, sometimes wobbly, live show – an opportunity for one Welsh hero to recount the tale of another.