- 25 Aug 17
The Butlers Did It!
There are two sides to the Psychedelic Furs. You have, on one hand, the edgy new wave band that gave the world some fine singles, and their excellent first two albums, The Psychedelic Furs and Talk Talk Talk. The other, harder to love version came about when teen-celluloid-behemoth John Hughes wrote a screenplay named after their tune ‘Pretty In Pink’. The resultant “romantic” “comedy” starring Molly Ringwald was a bit of a smash, as was the accompanying soundtrack. The Furs’ rerecorded theme tune became a hit, and the rush to follow it up produced the Midnight To Midnight album in 1986. When lead singer Richard Butler describes it as “hollow, vapid, and weak”, he is being far too kind.
Both versions, for better or worse, are served up at The Academy. Things kick off well with ‘Dumb Waiter’, ‘We Love You’, and ‘Mr. Jones’, which are all angular, pounding and inventive. Their bolt is blown a bit early by following with ‘Pretty In Pink’, but it earns the enthusiastic response you would expect, and remains a great song. The same can’t be said for ‘Danger, which is where the fabulously monikered Mars Williams starts to lose the run of himself. I like a bit of saxophone as much as the next man, but a little goes a long way. He also looked like he’d just walked in from a Tina Turner video, which didn’t help.
‘Love My Way’ and ‘Run And Run’ get things back on track. Butler’s seasoned crackle of a voice is unlikely to give Andrea Bocelli too many sleepless nights, but it’s got a character all his own. He knows what he’s doing as a front man too, leading the eighties kids (everybody here) in a sing-along during ‘The Ghost In You’, from 1984’s Mirror Moves. ‘Angels Don’t Cry’ and ‘Heartbreak Beat’, from the aforementioned abomination Midnight To Midnight, haven’t got any better with age. The kind of horrors that even Billy Idol would have turned down, they’re all indoor sunglasses and leather trousers. Should I tell you about the time I split a pair of leather trousers on a night out in Galway? No, I shouldn’t, and why not? Because leather trousers have no place in polite society. ‘Don’t Be A Girl’ and ‘House’ are slightly better - but only slightly - before a much stronger finish with 1984’s yearning ‘Heaven’.
The encore dispels all bad thoughts and doubts. The flanged moodiness of ‘Sister Europe’ and the goth thump of ‘India’ seal the victory, offering further proof that the early version of the Furs is the one to cherish. Tonight’s show is a good one, and the crowd goes home happy, but get the band back playing just those first two albums, and it would be a knockout.