Sunday, 6 February 2011
796 THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, Frome Cheese And Grain, Sunday 24 October 2010
The second gig in consecutive nights saw me solo driving through the wilds of Wiltshire and Somerset, to Frome, thence to see 80's favourites The Psychedelic Furs, who'd revived memories of those rockist days wonderfully with a colossal set at Shepherd's Bush Empire 5 years ago. They'd originally announced plans to play "Talk Talk Talk", their seminal 1981 album, in its' entirety at the back end of 2009, but cancelled those shows after I'd gotten tix! D'oh! After that false start, though, we were on again, although I was without potential gig companions Rich and "Mad" Doug. Their loss!
I arrived at the car park fronting the Cheese And Grain at 8, only to be confronted with a huge queue, as they'd not opened yet! Somehow the Furs' intended 8.30 start seemed unlikely... finally got in at 20 past, and headed down the front at this large and run-down market hall venue, and waited, and waited... finally a compere came out and gave us the "heads up" on the running order, then The Furs took the stage, one by one, to the opening bars of the angular "Dumb Waiters". In a predictable but nice touch of rock theatre, Richard Butler took the stage last, with a flourish and arrogant swagger, rakish and waistcoated, the effortless cool of 70's Bowie and the energy and verve of a man less than half his age. As the first part of the set was a run-through of "Talk Talk Talk" in order, "Pretty In Pink", the quintessential 80's pop song, was next, superbly embellished by Mars Williams' mighty sax work. The sax, indeed, was the primary colour of most of the set; the Furs, never a guitar-heavy band, tonight relied heavily on Williams to give their material the essential element of late night sleaze, and he delivered to a "T". The headlong rollercoaster ride of "Mr. Jones" was another notable highlight of this first set, although an aching "She Is Mine", during which I leant forward and shook the angular, energetic Butler's hand, ran it close.
A break followed, during which I chatted to a fellow Furs devotee, lamenting the seeming lack of interest down the front from this nevertheless full crowd. T'uh, yokels... Anyway, the Furs returned with a dark, brooding "Sister Europe", then reprised some classics; the frenetic 80's late-night dance of "Heartbeat" (prompting me to shout, "fuck me, Butler, that was good!"), the soaring, anthemic "Heaven", and my highlight, the encore "President Gas", seething with sleaze, glamour and sinister power, with supreme frontman Butler's stretched nasal vocal delivery as prominent as his elastic and kinetic stage moves, and brother Tim, a Mickey Rourke-alike towering monolith on bass, a constant and imposing presence alongside. Final number "India", another rollercoaster ride through the deliciously seamy and elemental side of rock'n'roll, finally saw a mosh break out, the hitherto static Frome crowd finally giving the Furs the kudos they'd deserved all along, for another colossal performance.
Collected my thoughts before heading home through the inky countryside, reflecting on this band; The Psychedelic Furs, growing old magnificently, and still able to deliver after 30 years. Colossal, yet again!