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Sunday, 17 June 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: The Psychedelic Furs (Review By Paul H)

The Psychedelic Furs - Tramshed, Cardiff

Mrs. H has always been a bit of an indie fan. And when I say indie, I mostly mean the art/alternative rock and miserable post-punk gothic leanings which includes everything from The Mission, My Bloody Valentine, Suede, The Cure to The Smiths and the oratory style of Sir William of Bragg, not the boorish leanings of Oasis and the like. She’s always loved Richard Butler and The Psychedelic Furs, and I regularly discover the band blasting in the house, especially their most famous song, Pretty In Pink, used in the John Hughes directed film of the same name. The Furs formed in 1977 and delivered their debut album, a self-titled affair was released in 1980 with their final release World Outside released in 1991, just over a decade later. The band went on hiatus after that release before reforming in 2000 and continuing to gig. A rare opportunity to see them up close at the Tramshed was on offer and as I had two gigs more to my liking at the end of the week, I was for once the +1 on a sticky night in the capital.

Sometimes it is rather enjoyable to attend a gig where a) you have limited interest or knowledge of the band and b) you are open to everything that comes at you. Having caught the tail end of the main support we didn’t have to wait too long before the Furs hit the stage and launched into Dumb Waiters. The band has been touring for several weeks and was tight and crafted, with Richard Butler afforded a hero’s welcome as he strode on to the stage, his long black coat and shades providing a gothic tint and making a mockery of the heat in the venue. Alongside him, brother and bassist Tim Butler, resplendent in a deep maroon coat, provided much of the visual impact, mouthing the words with real passion and moving incessantly, his dark glasses rounding off the coolness of image. The early part of the set contained some of The Furs darker and more gothic edged tunes, with Into You Like A Train and Mr Jones particularly fine.

Whilst the Butler brothers remain the undoubted stars of the band, there was much to appreciate elsewhere, with saxophonist and clarinetist Mars Williams belying his small stature with a giant of a performance. Amanda Kramer, in a spectacular teal coat and fabulous top hat provided the subtle but essential synth touches. With the crowd lapping up every word, and the band limiting their communication with the audience to a “thanks” at the end of each song, it really was an evening where the music did all the talking. Sister Europe and a brilliant Love My Way continued in a set crammed full of highlights, as the band moved comfortably to top gear without breaking stride.

Set closer Imitation Of Christ and Heaven were both superbly executed, the former with its dark overtures allowing guitarist Rich Good to flex the strings to great effect. Of course, the obligatory encore could only contain one thing and after a brilliant India it was singalong time as Pretty In Pink finished a rather top evening of entertainment. Fair play, for a band I’d had very little interest in previously, this was pretty good stuff and a refreshing change from the usual ear-splitting cacophony that usually floats my boat. 8/10

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