It was a late start and a late finish at Los Angeles’ Echo for the last night of Gruff Rhys’ US tour. Special mention has to go to Lorkin O’Rielly for a brilliant solo support set. Originally from Edinburgh, Lorkin moved to upstate New York in 2014. There he began writing songs that are rich in poetic imagery and lie somewhere between Celtic folk and roots Americana. Just he, a guitar and stomp box, Lorkin held the room transfixed.
Gruff Rhys took to the stage with the rest of the band a little after 10. Like an indie super group, Rhys has assembled former Flaming Lips drummer Kliph Scurlock, Steven Black of Sweet Baboo on bass and Osian Gwynedd on piano. This wouldn’t be Gruff Rhys gig without a handwritten sign. And with that, he introduced Side 1 of his latest album Babelsberg. A satirical portrait of the current United States, they ran through the full album in order. All the while Gruff engaging the audience in his dry, affable comedy that makes brilliant use of dead air. Together with the bonhomie between them, it gave the impression a real camaraderie had been forged on the road between the band and their support. This shone through in this wonderful and intimate performance by four people who looked like they simply enjoyed playing together. Five when Lorkin came out to join the Band.
Post Babelsberg, the band played on. Playing tracks Gruff’s solo albums Dandelion, Hotel Shampoo and American Interior, together with a few Super Furry’s album tracks. Their last night on the road, they were in no rush for it to end. As they played deep into the Los Angeles night and I’m sure, well past its notorious early curfews.