Tuesday, 5 January 2010

667 PSYCHEDELIC FURS, The Others, London Shepherd's Bush Empire, Thursday 23 June 2005

An early birthday treat, this; a rare gig from the reformed Psychedelic Furs, one of my favourite 80's bands and a band I simply described as "colossal" the last time I saw them - 18 years ago!

Hit the road just after 6 with Rachel, and a traffic-free run saw us park up at 10 to 8. Got into the venue just before support The Others took the stage at 8. Hotly tipped by the NME, they were a bass-led spiky amalgam of Cure dynamics (the bassist sported a Robert Smith spider-plant hairdo, and they totally ripped off "In Between Days" for one of their numbers) and thrashy New Wave attitude. Shame tunes were in short supply, shame the vocalist (who introduced practically every song with, "we are The Others") didn't have the voice to match his acerbic attitude, and shame all their fans got chucked out for invading the stage!

We met up with our London friends during their set, then reminisced as the place filled up to a respectable level (by no means sold out, and full of ageing rockers and Bowie-heads - I felt quite young, despite this being the eve of my 40th birthday!).

Just as the auditorium plunged into darkness, heralding the entrance of the Furs, I remarked to Rachel that this one would be either triumph or disaster. Thankfully it proved most emphatically the former; Richard Butler, black clad and looking rakishly cool and bloody good for his age and profession, led the Furs into an opening "Into You Like A Train", the place went nuts and you immediately knew it was going to be a very special night.

The Furs were criminally overlooked in my view, but are perhaps the quintessential 80's rock band - Bowie-esque glam stylings, a touch of synth, glacially cool vocalist and towering tunes. It took just 3 numbers before "President Gas" drew me into the mosh, and there I stayed, grinning like a loon, 22 again. I shook the man's hand during the edgy, sleazy and sexy "High Wire Days", then after a breather I was back in it for the soaring, majestic "Heaven" with its' evocative, tumbling bass line, then set closer, my favourite; the titanic "Forever Now", Butler whirling like a dervish and putting heart and soul into his performance.

The set was capped by encores featuring the inevitable "Pretty In Pink" and a rampant "India", filling out an hour and a half of sheer brilliance. By no means flawless - Butler missed a number of high notes, particularly during "The Ghost In You", and the guitar, never really a key feature of the Furs sound (usually textural, with the synth or sax normally taking the lead) sounded thinner the closer I got to the stage. However the ragged edges made the experience even better in so many ways, and in terms of sheer passion, this knocked out both recent stadium shows. A remarkable resurrection and home by 12. The Psychedelic Furs - colossal, again!

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