Thursday, 5 July 2012

851 THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, Gaz Brookfield, Bristol Fleece, Wednesday 4 July 2012

They’re back,and this time it’s like they’ve not even been away….It’s The Psychedelic Furs, titanic 80’s rockist purveyors of delicious late night glam sleaze rock’n’roll with a New Wave sensibility and a Bowie/ Velvet Underground twist, who celebrated their classic 1981 “Talk Talk Talk” album barely 20 months ago with a superb Frome show, and were this time announcing some dates because… well, just because, really! And at the relatively tiny confines and inevitable close quarters of the Fleece; this one was not to be missed. I pounced on a ticket immediately, and so, it appeared, did everyone else, as by the time I’d managed to get in touch with fellow Furs devotee “Mad” Doug about joining me, they’d sold the damn thing out!

So it was a solo jaunt down to Brizzle, thankfully in decent weather this time, hitting this, my most visited venue, for my 49th gig here, just after 8. Didn’t have long to wait for support, which turned out to be a revelation; Gaz Brookfield ,a chap who I’d seen feature on a few Swindon Vic gig listings, but had never got off my arse to go check him out before. My mistake. Armed only with a battered, road-weary acoustic, a head full of opinions and, more importantly, the wit and wherewithal to articulate them, he set about winning over the early doors punters with some forthright and highly entertaining diatribes, targeting politicians, Simon Cowell and the like, and clearly relished and fully exploited this opportunity. Using mundane yet familiar reference points (the hard shoulder of the M4 corridor got a couple of mentions!) in his wordy numbers (that’s OK by me, I’ve always been partial to some excess verbiage in my songs, hence my love for The Hold Steady!), he nevertheless made his points with a venomous yet considered and splendid set. I wished I could have taken his essay about bullying, “Be The Bigger Man”, back 35 years or so and played it to my 12 year old self, and I certainly won’t make the mistake of missing him in “The Don” again, a point I made afterwards to the former Swindon native Mr. Brookfield!

Bumped up at the front between acts, stage right in this packed and anticipatory crowd, leaning on a pillar right up against the Fleece’s raised stage. Butler’s going to look about 9 feet tall from here… At the witching hour, the intro white noise track kicked in and the Furs, dressed in obligatory rock’n’roll black and sporting sunglasses, took the stage. No messing about or easing in for this lot, which might have been excusable in deference to their vintage, they were straight into the tumbling, ramshackle rollercoaster ride of “Into You Like A Train”, Richard Butler’s trademark nasal London drawl already a standout feature. Indeed Butler, a dapper be-waistcoated rake in Bowie Berlin chic and heavy-framed glasses, was a riveting stage presence from the outset, throwing angular shapes with the verve and audacity of a man half his age, and giving a proper performance, a consummate lesson in the art of the frontman. A rambunctious “Mr Jones” segued into the sleazy late night NYC groove of “Heartbeat”, Mars Williams’ enthusiastic virtuoso sax playing already dominating the sound. “Pretty In Pink” was thrown in early and got a huge ovation which took Butler aback somewhat, replying with a surprised, “thank you!”

A few lesser known Furs tracks took centre stage thereafter; a menacing “Only You And I” was an early highlight, and following a wonderful “Heaven”, which featured the kinetic Butler doing skits from the video and shaking punters hands down the front (including mine!), a gorgeous and melancholy “My Time” was also a late set highlight. A massive, seething “India”, featuring towering and somewhat intimidating bassist Tim Butler leaning into the crowd so closely I could have picked his pockets, rounded off a powerful, sweaty set perfectly, before the encore brought my highlight of the night; a soaring, anthemic “Forever Now”, Butler the glacially cool superstar finally disappearing with a heartfelt, “thanks,” after the perfect climax to another superb Furs performance. Grabbed a set-list and got it signed by Williams and guitarist Rich Good afterwards, just to round off a great night. The Psychedelic Furs; colossal, yet again!

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