The BBC's decision to move its Football Focus team to Media City at Salford Quays seems to have generated some radical thinking. How else do you explain the decision to disregard the fifth commandment of football broadcasting ('Kasabian shalt soundtrack everything') and choose North Walian surf-rockers Y Niwl for the credits of this season's show instead?
Here, at least, the Beeb are in good company since Y Niwl have also been selected as both the support and backing band for Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys' latest solo outings. And a bloody good decision this appears, too, as they lend quirky touches (woodwind, anyone?) and some youthful zeal to Rhys' deft vocal, particularly during his more wistful moments ('Vitamin K', 'Pwdin Wy Part 2'). Where required, this combination kicks like a petulant England striker, with 'Patterns of Power' drowned in a monstrous beat soiled with crackle and fuzz while 'In A House With No Mirrors (You Never Get Old)' recalls the Super Furries at their Radiator-period heights.
It is telling that this is one of the few reminders of Rhys' day job, the most obvious being his use of placards to prompt crowd reactions which will be familiar to the seasoned Furry follower. Unlike some of his contemporaries (yes, Richard Ashcroft, I am looking at you), Rhys already has enough strong solo material to resist any urges to revert to stagey greatest-hits-by-the-band-that-made-me-famous interludes. There is sufficient respect for him in the packed club that no one calls for him to do so, either.
Playing on the smaller stage seems to agree with Rhys, whose deadpanned between-song asides and languid charm often get lost amid the sonic lightshows in the big halls. He is warm and effusive tonight, adding some very funny context to the two-part 'Pwdin Wy' for the non-Welsh speakers in the audience – that is, everyone bar the the lone female voice who shouts accompaniment from somewhere near the front. The Welsh language songs travel pretty well, with 'Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru' matched for audience enthusiasm only by a euphoric take of 'The Court of King Arthur'.
Rhys seems to be enjoying himself so much that he overstays his indecently early curfew, with the net result that he has to play a solo encore under the full beam of the house lights. Thing is, though, you can't hurry Gruff, as Phil Collins might have said if he was unfamiliar with Welsh pronunciation. So he picks his way studiously through a Meic Stephens cover (which he has to start twice) and a delicate rendering of 'If We Were Words (We Would Rhyme)' before shuffling off stage to the obvious relief of a worried-looking promoter. There are more than likely milkfloats with greater urgency, but it is entirely to Rhys' credit.
Y Niwl must be in a state of shock: endorsed by one of the very few Creation Records refugees yet to blot his copybook and forever to be associated in the minds of Britain's football fans with Garth Crooks. Funny old game, Saint.