Wednesday 13 September 2017

The Psychedelic Furs

The last time I saw The Psychedelic Furs perform in concert, they were touring in support of their seventh LP 'World Outside'. That was in 1991 and, criminally, they haven't released another full album of new songs since, although front man Richard Butler has put out material under both his own name and Love Spit Love in the intervening years. The band reconvened in 2001 following a prolonged hiatus and continue to tour regularly in the USA. A couple of evenings ago, I caught up with the UK leg of their 'Singles' tour. What I half-envisaged was a perfunctory run through of the hits, but what I got was a band at the top of its game, playing each song as if it was their latest and having a whole heap of fun doing so.

The setlist was confidently laid out in broadly chronological order, so we got big hitters 'We Love You', 'Mr Jones' and 'Pretty in Pink' very early on, while 'Don't Be a Girl' from 'World Outside' and 'House' from 'Book of Days' appeared towards the very end. The band held back a gorgeous 'Heaven' to round off the main set though and encored with an atmospheric 'Sister Europe' and a positively bruising 'India'. My personal highlights of an excellent night out came with the contemporary interpretations of 'Midnight to Midnight' period material. Richard Butler himself has described that particular LP as being 'hollow, vapid and weak' and it certainly hasn't aged too well, but on Monday evening 'Heartbreak Beat' and 'Angel's Don't Cry' were unexpectedly powerful.

They didn't play my all-time favouite Psychedelic Furs song this time around, but then I didn't expect them to - it's a singles tour and the tune in question was never a single. You can find 'Torch' tucked away on their final CBS LP, 1989's Book of Days', a terrific and unjustly overlooked record. 

Psychedelic Furs - Torch


George said...

Splendid tune.

JTFL said...

I only saw the Furs once, in 1980, in their first American show. Lots of bands touring the States for the first time played this tiny club in my hometown called My Father's Place. It was a quaint venue located under a bridge in Roslyn, Long Island, NY. Bands would land at nearby JFK or LaGuardia airport on the island and warm up with a set in this sleepy suburb before setting off to conquer the US proper. Back then the Furs were a 6-man band and could barely play their instruments. They were fun to like and were completely underground. Richard Butler had a unique voice and his lyrics were clever and cryptic to my teenage self. Maybe a year or so later Pretty in Pink got used for a big budget Hollywood feature and that pretty much ruined the whole thing.

The Swede said...

Glad you enjoyed it George. We'll have to agree to disagree about Rod Picott!

JTFL. It looks like they've come full circle. There were 6 or 7 of them on stage on Monday, in a small sweaty venue and they played as if their lives depended on it. Butler is still a totally engaging frontman, although he did look a little like Nicky Wire doing an impersonation of John Lydon.

Brian said...

Also a big fan, and I catch them as often as I can. Their last trip through my part of the world back in July was the singles tour as well, but the bonus was they shared the bill with Robyn Hitchcock. Sounds like the Swede's dream show, eh?

Charity Chic said...

Glad you enjoyed the gig Swede
I listened to Talk Talk Talk recently and found it very dated

Pretty in pink is still one of my favourite songs though

The Swede said...

Brian. I was hoping that Robyn would follow the tour over here, but it was not to be. We got Lene Lovich as support.

Charity Chic. I agree. Some of the recorded versions of the songs don't sonically live up to the sound that's in my head, which is why it was a joy to hear them played with such gusto on Monday.

JC said...

They're a band that I've long found polarise opinions, but those that like them really do carry a torch for them. Me? I'm sort of unusual in that I like some stuff - I think Dumb Waiters is a wonderful song and some of the singles are excellent - but I wouldn't call myself a huge fan.

Always been bemused that nobody has offered up an ICA....

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