Sunday, July 3, 2011

Music review: Psychedelic Furs let strong catalog speak for itself

The Psychedelic Furs at the Culture Room on Friday night.‭
(‬Photo by Gretel Sarmiento‭)

By Gretel Sarmiento

The best furs‭ ‬don’t come from dead animals:‭ ‬they come with guitars,‭ ‬they jump and down,‭ ‬and they sing songs with a distinctive raw voice.

British rockers The Psychedelic Furs‭ ‬are very‭ ‬much alive and still on the run,‭ ‬and they proved it song after‭ ‬song Friday night at Fort Lauderdale‭’‬s Culture Room.‭

A simple stage,‭ ‬with no other adornment but the music,‭ ‬accompanied the band during their two sets,‭ ‬the first of which covered all the tracks from the‭ ‬1981‭ ‬Talk Talk Talk album including‭ ‬All of This And Nothing,‭ ‬She Is Mine,‭ ‬It Goes On‭ ‬and‭ ‬Pretty in Pink.‭ ‬The closer the fans got to frontman Richard Butler,‭ ‬the harder his obsure poetic lyrics seemed to bite.‭

There was no opening act.‭ ‬A video of David Bowie’s Reality tour warmed up the standing crowd while it waited to get cozy.‭ ‬Dumb Waiters‭ ‬opened up the concert around‭ ‬9‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬The members had made their entrance and right away got into it.‭ ‬No hellos were said.‭ ‬No kissing up to the crowd.‭ ‬Songs now in their‭ ‬20s‭ ‬and‭ ‬30s‭ ‬suddenly sounded fresh,‭ ‬charged with all the energy and emotion accumulated over the years that they went unsung.‭

The songs were the true stars of the night,‭ ‬although everyone adored the impressive saxophone by Mars Williams.‭ ‬The band's current lineup also included Tim Butler‭ (‬bass‭)‬,‭ ‬Rich Good‭ (‬guitar‭), Paul Garisto (drums) ‬and Amanda Kramer‭ (‬keyboards‭)‬.‭ ‬The crowd also loved it whenever Richard Butler decided to smile.

The relaxed singer and songwriter,‭ ‬whose known first passion is painting,‭ ‬mostly kept to the lyrics and his amusing mannerisms.‭ ‬The crowd got to see exactly what his visual interpretations look like: If,‭ ‬to the mix of rebel child and mime,‭ ‬you were to throw in a little bit of‭ ‬Sid‭ & ‬Nancy's Gary Oldman,‭ ‬then you’d get the idea.‭

‭"‬Richard‭!" ‬People kept calling out his name as if they knew him, and you couldn’t blame them.‭ ‬Even the last person standing in the room,‭ ‬pinned to the back wall,‭ ‬could have gone home and safely proclaimed:‭ ‬Butler was right there.‭ ‬And he was,‭ ‬dressed in black slacks and black blazer.‭ Saxman Williams‬ sported a military-style jacket while guitarist Good's sweat kept dripping from his feather-like hairstyle.‭

These are not the furs that rest,‭ ‬moribund and comfortable,‭ ‬on someone’s neck and shoulders.‭ ‬These got the fans singing and jumping in a tight room full of strangers and,‭ ‬I suspect, talking for hours after the show.‭

At‭ ‬9:45‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬the band took a‭ ‬15-minute break and came back with‭ ‬Sister Europe,‭ ‬Love My Way,‭ ‬Heartbeat‭ ‬and‭ ‬Heaven,‭ ‬among others.‭ ‬Maybe it was just me,‭ ‬but‭ ‬President Gas‭ ‬has never sounded better.‭ ‬On this night,‭ ‬the‭ ‬1982‭ ‬song had more guts and emotion than before.‭ ‬Perhaps it is the times we live that make it seem more relevant.‭

No lies,‭ ‬back in the government
No tears,‭ ‬party time is here again
President Gas is up for president
Line up,‭ ‬put your kisses down
Say yeah,‭ ‬say yes again
Stand up,‭ ‬there's a head count
President Gas on everything but roller skates
It's sick the price of medicine
Stand up,‭ ‬we'll‭ ‬put you on your feet again
Open up your eyes
Just to check that you‭’‬re asleep again

President Gas is President Gas again
He comes in from the left sometimes
He comes in from the right

After‭ ‬Heartbreak Beat‭, ‬Butler suddenly left the stage,‭ ‬and the rest of the band soon followed.‭ ‬It was clear that the‭ ‬Furs wanted the well-behaved crowd to‭ ‬lose it a little bit more,‭ ‬go a little wild,‭ ‬and ask to return to the stage,‭ ‬which they did with‭ ‬My Time.

Butler sang it‭ ‬in‭ ‬sort of‭ ‬a‭ ‬mellow way,‭ ‬more or less what he sounds like in‭ ‬Maybe Someday,‭ ‬one of the songs from the very personal solo material he produced while the band took a break in the‭ ‬‘90s.‭ ‬During this time he and his brother Tim also formed‭ ‬Love Spit Love and recorded two albums.‭

Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler.‭
(‬Photo by Gretel Sarmiento‭)

In‭ ‬2000,‭ ‬the band fortunately regrouped and released a live album‭ ‬Beautiful Chaos:‭ ‬Greatest Hits Live,‭ ‬which also featured a new studio recording,‭ ‬Alive‭ (‬For Once In My Lifetime‭)‬.‭ ‬The‭ ‬ongoing‭ ‬Talk Talk Talk tour is all about celebrating the‭ ‬30th anniversary of the album of that name.‭ ‬Following their performance‭ ‬tonight‭ ‬in Jacksonville,‭ ‬the band will head to Atlanta and Nashville.‭

But none of these appearances can really be considered the‭ ‬Furs‭' ‬time to shine again.‭ ‬In reality,‭ ‬they have never stopped shining. A band that needs nothing more than a platform in a small dark room with a few bright lights to change your life is not like any other band.‭ ‬It can afford to go dormant for a while and go bare at a show.‭ ‬This is after all what fans love about them:‭ ‬the lack of small talk,‭ ‬the rawness.‭

At about‭ ‬11‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬Butler said‭ ‬“Thank you,‭”‬ and that was it.‭ ‬The confused crowd thought it could get one more song out of them but as Butler had just told them:‭ ‬My time is my time.‭ ‬The TV screen that had played Bowie at the beginning turned to‭ ‬The Rolling Stones. The crowd left.‭

Moments later a biker stopped at a red light sees a group of still hyped-up fans cross the street.‭ ‬He asks‭ ‬“Who was playing at the Culture Room‭?”‬

Someone responds:‭ “‬The Psychedelic Furs.‭”

“Oh,‭ ‬man‭!” ‬said the biker,‭ ‬realizing what he had just missed.‭ ‬ 
Dumb Waiters
Pretty‭ ‬in‭ ‬Pink
I Wanna Sleep With You‭
No Tears
Mr.‭ ‬Jones
Into You Like A Train
It Goes On
So Run Down
All of This And Nothing
She Is Mine
Sister Europe
Love My Way
President Gas
Highwire Days
Heartbreak Beat
My Time

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