The Psychedelic Furs perform April 16 at the Gypsy Tea Room, with The Alarm and The Pleased.
At their Boston show last week, the outfit worn by Psychedelic Furs front man Richard Butler--a chunky beaded necklace, dapper suit and secret-agent sunglasses--embodied his band's descent into glossy rock purgatory. Formed in 1977, the Furs' early albums were shadowy hurricanes of post-punk rebellion. Butler's tar-smeared vocals matched the group's squawking saxophones, sandpaper-raw riffs and unflagging energy. Yet his bombastic grittiness found itself at odds with the Furs' sound and vision during their mid-1980s heyday, when a re-recorded version of "Pretty in Pink," dark anthems gussied up with synths and a hairsprayed mallrat makeover, catapulted them to stardom here. His voice remained nicotine-raspy in Boston, but the show's atmosphere strictly felt like a nostalgia trip back to senior prom 1982. The lukewarm, keyboard-driven "Alice's House" dragged, and even once-crisp jags like "Into You Like a Train" felt bogged down by arena-cheesy drumming. Hits "Love My Way," "Heartbreak Beat" and "Pink" naturally made joyful appearances, but their upbeat attitude felt no different from the performance of moodier cuts like "President Gas"--an unfortunate but not surprising avoidance of the soul-searing sentiments that once made them innovators.