The Psychedelic Furs

The Fleece, Bristol on Wed 4th Jul 2012

I still love the Furs. While I've long moved on from having a big liking for guitar bands of all sorts, the Furs have endured. If I'm going to play something loud and rocky, there's a more than decent chance that it's the Furs that I'll take off the shelf.

I've seen them once before, as headliners of Glastonbury '86. That was them touring the rather-too-poppy 'Mirror Moves' before they disappeared to the USA, so I can't say I was much interested at the time, and being Glastonbury my only remaining memory is that I was there.

So 26 years later I've a chance to revisit my youth, and looking around at tonight's crowd I'm not the only one. A sold-out audience of almost-exclusively spreading stomachs and balding heads (not me, honest :P), many dressed in their favourite 'say-something' t-shirts pulled out from the back of the drawer, and including just a small scattering of the female of the species, came out on a school-night to re-live their 80s dole-days before returning to normality and jobs in the morning, hopefully not smelling too much of beer.

Talk outside before they came on always seem to include "when did you last see them?", with the answers coming from post-punkers of the early 80s to synth-popsters later in the decade. One opinion had The Psychedelic Furs as "grunge, with saxophone", and recognising where that was coming from could these be the godfathers of grunge? Perhaps.

Out onto the small stage came six of them - I've no idea how many of them might have been The Furs in their hey-day, I wouldn't have recognised the band if they'd passed me in the street years ago and I certainty wouldn't recognise them now - but there's Butler still fronting them, and as he starts to sing it's still unmistakably Butler, that gratey voice unchanged after all these years and sounding surprisingly note-perfect.

For some reason there's something about Bulter's mannerisms I find faintly ridiculous, perhaps it's his look not unlike a clean-cut Bowie, perhaps it's him slapping hands with those down the front, perhaps it's him not speaking a word to the audience though-out the whole set, or perhaps it's the grin that keeps spreading across his face. He's clearly enjoying it, but that somehow detracts from what I'm wanting; my long-lost youth is telling me that this should be delivered with passion and meaning, but it's not.

Despite that, there's nothing wrong with what I'm hearing, nothing at all. The soundsystem is giving them their unmistakable understated sound, and it's so note perfect both by Butler and the band that I'm wondering if they've recently re-learnt the songs by listening back on the recordings. Songs this old have normally taken on a life of their own away from what was put out on record, but there's nothing of that to be heard.

I wasn't missing this by taking notes, but the set definitely included 'Imitation of Christ', 'Pretty In Pink', 'Mr Jones', 'Into You Like a Train', 'Heartbeat', and 'Heaven', and they finished up the main part of the set with 'India'. Disappointing for me was no 'President Gas' or 'Sister Europe', though someone who'd seen other shows in the last few days told me the set list was slightly different each day.

Back on stage for a two song chorus, the first was unfamiliar to me (as were a couple of songs in the main part of the set, I'm clearly not the big fan I'd been thinking). But after wanting a return to my youth for the whole show and not getting it, they finished with the superb 'Forever Now' - and yep, they got me in the end.

The Psychedelic Furs: they're not really capable of the time travel I was hoping for, they're just a band. But a damned good band all the same.

article by: Neil Greenway

published: 05/07/2012 09:28


sorry, we currently have no gigs listed for this act.