The Psychedelic Furs
April 24, 2011
Better than: the last three times I saw the Furs.
Seeing that this was the third time in less than two years that the Psychedelic Furs have played Dallas, it was somewhat of a surprise to see a full house packed in at the Granada Theater -- and on Easter Sunday, no less.
Yet there they were, a solid horde of aging, '80s new wavers evenly split between men and women, all dancing and reenacting those blissful late night memories.
And Richard Butler and the rest of the Furs gave the crowd everything it wanted.
The band's first set was comprised entirely of Talk Talk Talk, arguably the Psychedelic Furs' best album. Beginning with "Dumb Waiters" and ending with "She is Mine," the band sounded focused and passionate, even though sound issues took out the guitar at the beginning of "Mr. Jones." Sure, some in the crowd seemed confused by deep cuts such as "I Wanna Sleep With You," "No Tears" and "It Goes On," but when a band is playing an entire album, you get the entire album. And for true fans, those songs were revelatory -- particularly the latter -- as Butler's intensity cranked up a notch and he pantomimed nearly every word and phrase.
Indeed, Butler's energy and enthusiasm belies his age.
At 54, the guy is more active on stage than people half his age. Of course, Butler's stamina could have something to do with the six Red Bulls he drank throughout the show, but we all have our crutches. In any case, the Furs finished up the 10 songs from Talk and then took a quick 15-minute break.
Upon returning to the stage, the Furs launched into a series of hits and almost-hits from across the band's 30-year career. First it was "Sister Europe" from the Furs' 1980 debut. Then came "Love My Way," perhaps the band's biggest hit, from 1982's Forever Now. Other highlights of the second set included "Heaven," "President Gas" and a tasty alt-rock retooling of "Heartbreak Beat," a song often disdained by old-school Furs fans.
Only Richard Butler and his brother, bassist Tim Butler, remain from the initial group, but this current six-piece has been touring together for well over a decade, so all the songs came off as dense and powerful as the originals.
In the end, those at the show who were fans of the early, chaotic style of the Furs were just as pleased as those of the latter, more danceable material.
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It's a tribute to Richard Butler's charisma (and stamina), seeing that he can make such disparate styles seem totally integrated into a cohesive sound.
Personal Bias: I first saw The Psychedelic Furs (using my brothers' ID) at the Agora Ballroom way back in 1981. There were maybe 100 people there, and I remember thinking that more people needed to know about this band. I was right.
By The Way: Richard Butler's throaty rasp is still as unique today as it was 30 years ago. Go figure.
Random Note: After the Furs did "Love My Way" (the second song of the second set), at least 30 people headed to the exits. I guess that's the song those folks wanted to hear. Then it was home to watch Pretty in Pink for the millionth time.