Thursday 9 October 2014

An Adventurous Journey With Gruff Rhys

With his band Super Furry Animals, Welsh musician Gruff Rhys already proved to be a versatile and unique musician. This is also showing in his other bands and solo career, where he's exploring different aspects of the musical spectrum. And besides musician and composer he's also an author and film maker. Tonight these things come together in his American Interior show, in support of his latest solo album and book by the same name.

Gruff Rhys at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, October 7 2014

The concept album American Interior has an incredible story as a base. It's the story about Welsh explorer John Evans who in the 18th century travelled to Northern America to track down an Indian tribe that was believed to be of Welsh descendant. There was a story in that time that America was discovered long before Columbus did by a Welsh prince Madog in the 12th century. Evans eventually tracks down the tribe after a perilous journey, but finds out they are not Welsh descendants at all. By then he's backed by the Spanish, annexates a large part of Northern America by accident in the Spanish king's name and has drawn a map of the Missouri river. Tragically on his way back he dies in New Orleans.

Rhys will backtrack the story and journey of Evans tonight with us. Wearing a wolf's head (super furry indeed) he introduces us to the legend of the Welsh indians by showing a short movie. Then, supported by slides starring a puppet representation of John Evans, we see Rhys following in Evans' foot steps. It's a hilarious journey where Rhys proves to be an entertaining story teller, sounding almost a bit confusing, but with a lot of tongue in cheek. I'm sure it has many believing he made the whole story up, but if you google the internet, you'll find it all really happened.

Every time Rhys tells part of the story and follows it up by a song of the record. The songs match that part of the story or at least have a connection to it. Rhys plays an old out of tune guitar while singing and has all kinds of inventive tricks to back him up. He uses a loop station to create harmonies, playing records that he recorded himself with some beats and soundscapes, and sometimes uses an old fashioned metronome for rhythm. He's really skilled at it and you don't miss a band for one minute. On top of that he has a wonderful voice that sounds warm and pleasant. Rhys proves tonight that he's a one of kind artist, a proud Welsh man with many talents and a true entertainer.

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