Concert Reviews

Over The Weekend: Psychedelic Furs and Happy Mondays at the House of Blues

Psychedelic Furs, The Happy Mondays
House of Blues
September 25, 2009

Better than:
attending the Taylor Swift show at AAC--even though rumor was Kanye was going to show up and take Swift's microphone away, again...

In front of a surprisingly large crowd, two icons of '80s and '90s alternative rock flexed their elderly muscles and impressed the amassed collection of 30-, 40- and 50-somethings at the House of Blues.

Both the Happy Mondays and the Psychedelic Furs have been through several break-ups and reformations leading up to this current tour, but in whatever form each band may take, it's the two band leaders that make all the difference.

Shaun Ryder's sneering, cocky, accented vocals and Quasimodo-like stage presence have always been a part of what made the Happy Mondays such an interesting experience to begin with. Older and rounder, Ryder led this current incarnation with a brooding, stalker-like quality that somehow worked with the band's funky aesthetic. The crowd ate up every old school, house groove and Ryder may have even smiled a time or two.

At a bit past 10 o'clock, Richard Butler brought out a youth-infused version of The Psychedelic Furs. Only brother and bassist Tim remains from the original Furs, but that didn't stop this new unit from hitting the ground running with a picture perfect version of "Love My Way."

The Furs' set list was an interesting mix of hits, should-have-been-hits and deep album cuts. Whether it was an obscure tune like "She is Mine" (one of several numbers from the band's best effort Talk, Talk, Talk) or one of the band's more popular numbers ("Heaven," "Pretty in Pink," or "The Ghost in You"), the crowd roared its approval each and every time.

Richard Butler was the obvious focal point, sashaying across the stage during "President Gas" like a man who had arrived in a time machine from 1984. During an intense version of "All of This and Nothing," Butler spit out the list of items left by an old lover like a man half his age. Even a three-decade-old number like "Sister Europe" came across fresh and compelling.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I've been an unabashed fan of the Psychedelic Furs since I first heard them nearly 30 years ago. Butler's vocal blend of Johnny Rotten and David Bowie has few equals and his romantically tortured lyrics have always struck a chord with folks falling in and out of love.

Random Note: Some fan from Austin pestered me via text message endlessly for set list updates throughout the evening. Lucky I knew this particular Furs fan kind of well--or else I would have had to cut that shit out entirely. Thank the lord for texting, however; Richard Butler himself texted me after the show to invite some buds and me back to the tour bus for autographs and the like.

By the way: Somehow, I made it to Lee Harvey's for a nightcap and caught some band doing Cult covers. Thought that '80s time machine might have scooped me up as well...

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Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers

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