POSTLIBYAN: The Psychedlic Furs are one of those bands that came out of my misspent youth: you know, The 80's! Sigh. I fondly remember being a teenager, angry at the world, full of raging hormones, driving like mad for NO REASON at all, and blaring The Furs.
I wanted to go see them in 1987, but it was a school night and my parents wouldn't give me the money to go. So this was a long deferred treat.
And The Furs delivered. They played a tight set of their greatest hits, ripping through the numbers with precision and a little bit of passionate energy. I am sure that they are not angry young men anymore, but something about the guitar playing really struck me!
The lineup was interesting: Richard Butler on vocals, still sounding all smokey. His brother Tim (with a really bad haircut -- or was that a "hairpiece"?) on bass. Original guitarist Richard Ashton on lead guitar. They were backed up by another guitarist, a drummer, and a sequencer that had the saxophone and keyboard bits.
What was interesting to me was that the sequencer was used only minimally. That is, where they could get away with transferring a melody or a solo to the guitars, they did so. I noticed this several times, but particularly on Ghost In You (a personal fave). The version that they played was amazing. The sequencer had the high "pipe organ" keyboard sound. Ashton and the other guitarist, however, took over the main keyboard melody. They also slowed the song down a bit, so that the guitars sort of grinded through the song. Really a nice effect.
BRILLO: That new mix with heavy guitar made it really rock. While I expected to be doing a lot of 80's techno-dancing at this concert (in other words, swaying in place), my dance was actually closer to head banging. A pleasant surprise.
And i must say that I was not too disappointed in the lack of keyboards -- I actually think that getting rid of them lended well to a live performance. However, I think the absence of saxophone was quite problematic. I missed the strong sax from their songs and think it would have complemented the heavy guitar well.
TRACERS: I don't know -- I've got to go with PostLibyan on this one. As much as the saxophone was a part of their sound, it was never that integral -- the sax always sounded like an overdubbed accent as opposed to a centerpiece.
BRILLO: In general, though, the old boys can still rock. The new sound mix actually makes me wish they would record a new album. This show proved to me that they might actually have a new, improved sound and direction that translates well 20 years later.
POSTLIBYAN: Yeah, and that's what was so great -- rather than just doing exactly the same old thing, they played with the songs a little. Just enough to make it interesting for them (i am sure) but not enough to ostracisize the fans that wanted the classics.
It was quite a show i think. I give The Furs 7 sponges for performance. I give the venue 6 for sound. I give the opener 3 for being wholly derivative of a wide range of crappy AlternaPop bands. And on the whole, i would say this was a 7 Sponge night. The Furs still rock. I had a blast.
BRILLO: With the lack of sax, I give the show six sponges. The sound was great -- a six as well.
TRACERS: Hmmm.... The Furs themselves were quite quite good. As I said at the show, it's been a long long time since I've seen a real "professional" band. I mean, I normally go see bands that play in smokey dives through crappy sound systems to a crowd of 10 people. Therefore, I'm startled by bands that seem entirely focused and well-rehearsed. And much like when we saw Patti Smith last fall, I'm shocked at the actually showmanship that goes into their performance.
Like PostLibyan, I would give 7 sponges on The Furs set alone. But I'm not sure how much of that rating comes from The Furs and how much comes from my own reaction at seeing a choreographed, professional show.
However -- and this is a big however -- I'm not sure that The Furs offset the horrendousness of the venue, the crowd, or the opening band. The venue is essentially an over-priced Buckhead bar.
BRILLO: Not even that great of a bar either. Overpriced and nicely strong coctails -- that's good. What's bad is the "airline surplus little plastic cups" they gave me my drink in. Bad bad bad. What were they thinking?
TRACERS: The Crowd was a whole bunch of drunk yuppies stepping on my toes (although I was really amused by the girl with Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious on her ass).
POSTLIBYAN: Yeah. I wonder where she got a mini skirt with The Sex Pistols on it? Otherwise, you obviously don't get out to Buckhead too often. The yuppie/fratboy ratio was awfully low for Buckhead.
TRACERS: I suppose so - maybe it was more like the midtown martini crowd -- like those people you'd see at The Nomenclature or something.
POSTLIBYAN: Not trendy enough. Oh sure, there were fratboys, and there were trendoids, but most of the people that i saw were, like us, embittered survivors of the 80's revelling for a brief moment in happier times and musics. But that's what i saw...
BRILLO: Well, i had a "nostalgia" moment: it's been a long time since I've seen a show where a fan gets onstage and feels up the lead singer. What's more, the security was really cool about it. When a female fan jumped onstage to body-hug Richard Butler not once, but twice, security let her hang around for a while. I haven't seen that since high school when Frankie Goes to Hollywood played the Civic Center and invited all the fans onstage for the encore (when Security finally broke up the madness because the Fire Marshall had a fit, the band invited everyone to the Limelight for after show partying!).
TRACERS: Ooh! I'd forgotten about the groping fan. That was indeed so 80s. I was expecting the security boys to drag her off stage, but they didn't. And Richard Butler looked mildly amused by it all, as if he were wondering, "What am I? N'Sync?"
Crowds aside, i cannot forgive the opening band. They were like someone had poured every bad alternarock cliche from the past five years into a blender ("here's a little dash of Rage Against The Machine to be blended with my Matchbox 20"), then pureed it, shook it, stirred it, and then poured out the gooey remains on the stage. (Whoa. That was a rant wasn't it?).
POSTLIBYAN: Yeah, but it was a funny rant, so it's okay. I agree that Pinfed were the ultimate mass-marketed band -- utterly generic in the sense that everything had been stolen from somewhere else.
BRILLO: I am reminded of Leonard Maltin's movie reviews. If a movie is so bad he just can't rate it, he writes: BOMB. The opening band would be a BOMB.
TRACERS: On the other hand, all of it was forgotten when The Furs took the stage, which is a high recommendation, don't you think?
POSTLIBYAN: Indeed. They were powerful enough live to make the rest of the universe fall away -- only they were in focus. It was great.