Review by Kirsten Ferguson
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler stretched his arms out in a crucifixion pose while singing “Imitation of Christ,” a dark, dirge-like song from the Furs’ 1980 self-titled debut, recorded when the band was at its most gothic and foreboding.
It’s the kind of art-rock stance you might expect from the tall, gangly Butler, who looked the part of a post-punk sexy nerd in heavy-rimmed glasses and all-black clothes. Surprisingly, though, Butler spent most of the Furs’ 80-minute show in The Egg’s under-filled Hart Theatre not brooding at all.
He bounded around, practically doing calisthenics, before “Pretty in Pink,” the song that brought the Furs relative fame in the ‘80s when it inspired the John Hughes movie of the same name – a cheerfulness that belied his supposed dislike of the Gen-X touchstone film. (Of course, the band did dispense with their biggest hit just three songs in, which took some guts given the squeals that erupted from the audience when they played it.)
He pirouetted in front of drummer Paul Garisto’s kit midway through new wave classic “The Ghost in You,” draped his arm affectionately over his bassist brother Tim Butler (the only other original member left in the band) during “Heaven,” spun around, balancing his arms out like a tightrope walker on “Highwire Days” and egged on the die-hard fans dancing near the stage during set-closer “Heartbreak Beat.”
Sometimes all the joyfulness from Butler felt a tad off, given the acerbic disenchantment and ambivalence that infects much of his lyrics. But perhaps he was just enjoying the live frission generated by his band, a line-up (including saxophonist Mars Williams, keyboardist Amanda Kramer and guitarist Rich Good, who replaced longtime former member John Ashton) revamped after the Furs reunited in 2000.
Williams, who’s been with the band since their 1987 “Midnight to Midnight” album, in particular added some great sax passages on “Talk Like a Stranger” and “Love My Way,” taking center-stage to solo during “India,” which finished a quick, two-song encore that left some disappointed when the house lights came on. But by that point, only perhaps “Sister Europe” was an obvious omission from the set.
Shawn Stone’s review at Metroland
Greg Haymes’ review and Michael Janairo’s photographs at The Times Union
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “All too often, harder rock shows in the Hart Theatre at The Egg end up being stoic, stuffy affairs. Maybe it’s the comfortable seats and ushers, or the fact that the venue is near the state capitol building, but often it seems as if both band and audience are holding back. Not so with the Psychedelic Furs, who turned in a vicious, full-throttle performance where the give and take between musicians and audience drove the show into the stratosphere. The crowd was small, barely filling half the venue, but their enthusiastic dancing was a welcome sight to the Furs’ amped-up fury, creating one of the more memorable rock shows to pass through the venue in some time. For an hour and a half, the band rocked the audience, and by the end of the encore, no one was seated.”
THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS SET LIST
Into You Like a Train
Pretty in Pink
Only You and I
Imitation of Christ
It Goes On
The Ghost in You
Like a Stranger
Love My Way
All of the Law