The Psychedelic Furs
the House of Blues
April 26, 2001
Richard Butler looks for help.
Story and Photos by Tony BonyataNostalgia can be a bittersweet thing. It can remind us of wonderful times. But it can also make us aware that those times have come and gone forever - leaving a longing, empty feeling.
Such was the case with the Psychedelic Furs show at the House of Blues in Chicago last Thursday evening (the first of three consecutive shows there.) In their first headlining tour since 1992, lead vocalist Richard Butler brought together most of the founding members for a solid performance that lovingly held the audience's hands as they led them on a jaunt down 1980s memory lane.
Butler, slender with angular frame and clad in a black suit and shirt, took to a stage draped in plush red velvet curtains and long strips of plastic bubble wrap as his band tore into "India" from their 1980 self-titled debut album. Although his disheveled mop dared to be punky, with impotent spikes that couldn't quite rise to the occasion, his aggressive stage presence and raspy voice on the song had all the venomous spit that made The Pistols' Johnny rotten. They ran through the majority of their hits from the '80s, including "The Ghost In You," "Love My Way," which was slightly off-time, "Heartbreak Beat" and "Heaven," which saw Butler spinning slowly in place as if auditioning for the role as a jewelry box ballerina. Through it all, he worked the stage like a master thespian - raising his outstretched arms to the heavens, slinking from both sides of the stage, saucily swiveling his slip-jointed hips back and forth suggestively, and shaking hands with his enthusiastic, if not slightly aging, audience. For their encore Butler reemerged with fellow Furs in a dated 'new wave' baggy, black-and-white patchwork shirt for "Into You Like A Train," from their 1981 "Talk Talk Talk" album, and their crowd-pleasing hit "Pretty In Pink."
Although the show smacked of sentimental induced memories - without a new album to promote - they nonetheless managed to work in a couple of new numbers which fit nicely into their late '80s repertoire, but will unlikely win over a new audience.
Despite the fact that their pleasing show proved them as one of the strongest bands to emerge from the '80s post-punk scene, they also showed that, at this point, they're not about to lead us anywhere new.
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