The Psychedelic Furs at Gothic Theatre, 6/08/13
As good as the Psychedelic Furs' records are, there is just something about seeing Richard Butler, who was all smiles on this night, and hearing his heartfelt thank yous at the end of various songs, and then seeing the collective happiness of those who are still very clearly into the band, that added to the impact of the music.
With a bit of a melodic atmospheric introduction, the Furs took the stage quickly and got right to the introspective yet impassioned "Highwire Days," from Mirror Moves. The band drew nearly a third of the songs from the set from that 1984 album, and live, the songs were changed slightly either by design or just to change things up to keep things interesting.
"Love My Way," for instance, was a bit faster and not as brooding as the studio version. "All Of This and Nothing," meanwhile, built to a climax with a subtle swiftness that made the drop off of virtually all the sounds when Richard Butler sang "trash!" seem powerfully dramatic in a way that a recording never really fully translates.
A pleasant surprise came mid-set with the new song "Little Miss World," which allowed Amanda Kramer to shine a bit with string synths and carry the melody in the quiet part, which was accented expertly by Paul Garisto's textured rhythm. If it does appear on the forthcoming new Furs album, it's easily worthy of its respectable past catalog. What was most impressive, though, was how this band has undoubtedly played countless times across decades and yet still imbued the performance with palpable passion.
Toward the end of the set, the Furs treated us to one of its most urgent and dynamic songs with "Into You Like a Train." As he did throughout the show, Richard Butler emoted dramatically with his hands and wide gestures, conveying a sheer and recognizable joy of playing this music. Although his brother Tim stood with a quiet confidence, he did not merely stand in the background. He came to the edge of the stage and sang along while he laid down the simple but never simplistic bass lines that give the band the underlying momentum that gives even its most brooding and moody songs an uplifting quality.
It was in the quieter moments of "Into You Like a Train" that it seemed obvious that the song was written so that the saxophone, tonight played by Mars Williams, and the guitar, played by Rich Good, complemented each other perfectly both harmonically and in the accents. It made for what was already a heady song into something of exquisite beauty.
After the set concluded with "Heaven," the band played three more songs, including the closer, a striking and visceral take on one of its darker tunes, "Sleep Comes Down," which was ironic in a way because there was nothing even remotely sleep-inducing about any aspect of this show.
The opening act, My Jerusalem, was startlingly good. Singer Jeff Klein was reminiscent of Nick Cave but he had the vocal mannerisms of David Bowie. Really, though, he sounded like he cut his teeth hearing great soul and R&B when he was still living and becoming a musician in New Orleans.
Musically, the outfit was reminiscent of the kind of swampy, dark, atmospheric post-punk with soul and blues infused into its melodies and dynamics that you hear in Crime and the City Solution: moody but defiant, spooky but not forbidding.
Apparently the band played at the Larimer Lounge a while back to five people or so, Klein jokingly informed us. You can bet future visits won't be as sparsely attended. Sometimes a crowd can be indifferent to the opening act but that wasn't the case at all with this band whose music won over a crowd of people.
Personal Bias: I've been a fan of the Psychedelic Furs since the early '80s.
Random Detail: Ran into Harmony Star of Dangerous Nonsense, Duane Bodenheimer (formerly of the Derelicts and the Tomgirls) and Magic Cyclops at the show.
By The Way: The stage crew was pretty aggressive about holding on to the set lists but good notes and a little research sussed out "Little Miss World."
The Psychedelic Furs
Gothic Theatre - June 8, 2013
01. Highwire Days
03. The Ghost In You
04. Wedding Song
05. Heartbreak Beat
06. Soap Commercial
07. Little Miss World [new song]
08. Here Come Cowboys
10. No Easy Street
12. All Of This and Nothing
13. Love My Way
14. Into You Like A Train
17. My Time
18. Pretty In Pink
19. Sleep Comes Down
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