The Psychedelic Furs are one of those bands I enjoyed in the 80's for pretty much just one LP, 1981's "Talk Talk Talk", after that, bah....I liked what I'd heard "live" from bits of "Forever Now" but "Love My Way" was just as disposable as say, The Thompson Twins in my book. But they somehow have a place in my (very) early 80's nostalgia. They're not in my Top 10 fave 80's bands, in fact I'd be pushing it but I doubt they'd even make the Top 20, maybe mid 30's?! Anyway when I discovered they'd be coming to my all time fave music venue , Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ (here's a plug Todd):
I couldn't resist the idea to see what they were like 30 years later, and my wife liked them more than me and it was a night out so what the hell right? I'd seen them back in '82 or so plugging whatever LP followed "Talk Talk Talk", they were pretty good. They had a horn/string section if my memory serves me well (it often doesn't leading to Homer Simpson-esque flights of recollection fancy) and the opening band were...INXS! Anyway....I've been going to Maxwell's since 1985 and there's no finer place to see a band. Why? Best jukebox in the world, great bar up front with great stuff on tap and they've got amazing food! My wife and I mused it'd be a weird gig based purely on demographic, which like the night's music, we'd no idea what to expect since we didn't know a soul that was going. After a day of bouncing around Hoboken (and drinking) I think by the time the gig arrived we were well knackered having used our child free day/evening to it's fullest. They came on to a raucous fanfare (both of their gigs at Maxwell's sold out within a week or two of being announced). Before the show whilst leaving the gents I was stopped by a guy slightly older than me politely inquiring "by some miracle you don't have two extra tickets you're stuck with?". I didn't but I must have had a kind face.
It was immediately apparent that lead singer Richard Butler and bassist brother Tim were the only original members. That didn't stop them from sounding great, in fact the opening number, "Into You Like A Train" sounded just like the LP, as did every other tune I knew that they'd played!! I'm still not sure what I made of them though. Butler bounced around very cheery (like a clip I found on YouTube below from two nights prior) and seemed very happy, almost too happy in a way, because let's face it, The Psychedelic Furs are not a happy band. His voice was in fairly good form, though after awhile his hand gestures and accentuation's became a bit campy and as a result took on a whole sort of cabaret feel to it because he did it on every single tune, it was almost like an overblown Scott Walker late 60's hand gesticulation parody after awhile. He looked a lot like Gary Oldman channeling David Bowie (I'd forgotten how much Butler owes to the Dame)and his larger black framed glasses gave him an almost Bricktop look! Bassist brother Tim looked like Dwight Schrute (from "The Office") and did that odd thing of mouthing all the song lyrics without actually singing or having a mike in front of him. But it all sounded pretty good 30 years on with a cast of new faces (though it turns out the maniacal sax player and possibly the drummer had been with the band since the late 80's and everybody else has been on board for awhile too).
The crowd were a happy bunch, nearly all were my ages (mid 40's) maybe younger or older but not by much. There was a bit of that "silly hands in the air wave/sway to the music" like I see them do in the dreadful "Oldies" gigs on PBS, where, like tonight, a band is fronted by a few original members fleshed out by newer faces doing all the numbers they're famous for. There was a weird cheezy vibe to it all in a way, maybe it's because all the making fun of "oldies" shows that my parents go to has finally caught up with me because now it's 30 years later and I'm going to "oldies" shows. I somehow must admit that I too, an old(er). Although at least all of these tunes sounded exactly the way they did on record (unlike those"oldies" acts my mom and dad go see)! Having not really been a huge fan of their more commercial/famous stuff ("Heaven" for example) I got listless and bored quickly. I don't know where I was that I was not aware that last year they toured the States doing the entire "Talk Talk Talk" album as a 30th anniversary of it. Also being cramped in one spot on my feet and having been out and about all day when usually I'm well, playing Dad,meant that quite soon I was antsy, my wife confessed the same and 3/4's of the way through the set we were out in the night.......I REALLY need to get my rest game on for May's NYC Weller gig if I want to stand still on my feet for a few hours!!
Set list (thanks to setlist.fm) for Maxwell's 3/24/12:
Into You Like A Train
Pretty In Pink
Only You & I
Imitation Of Christ
It Goes On
The Ghost In You
Like A Stranger
Love My Way