Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury

FOLLOWING on from the success of the movie of the same name, Gruff Rhys transported his American Interior tour over the Atlantic to Salisbury.

In anyone else’s hands, the show could have been a dusty old history lesson. Fortunately, the Super Furry Animals front-man used his unique charm and deadpan wit to keep the crowd enthralled with his travelogue of moving adventures and heart warming songs.

The show told how Gruff followed in the footsteps of 18th century explorer John Evans, who went on an impulsive search for a fabled ‘lost tribe’ of Welsh Native Americans.

The audience heard bizarre tales of how our hero valiantly travelled into unchartered wilderness across the Midwest over seven years, leaving a trail of political chaos in his wake.

Along his way, he ingeniously changed his name to Don Juan Evans after defecting to the Spanish, accidentally annexed a third of North America from the British, and walked over 200 miles despite suffering malaria only to end up imprisoned as a heretic.

Gruff’s mixture of music and surreal PowerPoint slideshow showed Evans’ quest wasn’t totally in vain – the enchanted crowd at this unique audio-visual show would have missed out on a unique charismatic show if he hadn’t pursued his dream.

In the award-winning film of the same name, the singer wrote and performed songs to unaware audiences along the Missouri shoreline.

Without any band-mates and armed only with a projector and placards, this meant that the early songs in the film had a raw acoustic feel, occasionally lacking the warm dynamic groove Gruff is capable of. Fortunately, the finalised concept-album sits proudly next to his best work.

After spending so much time travelling and perfecting his presentation skills over the past two years, the only concern is where does Gruff go from here?

Here’s hoping that now he’s won a new tribe of fans stateside, he heads back to his Super Furry Animal companions for more adventures.

Graham Tarrant