THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS
Some say that change is inevitable. While that may be true, there were more than one thousand people gathered at Vancouver’s Orpheum theatre on July 31, hoping that some things never change. In particular, things relating to 1980’s pop-rockers The Psychedelic Furs.
There is a lot about the British post-punk band that has remained true over their forty-year tenure, one being their ability to consistently churn out commercially viable and emotionally satisfying pop-rock hits. That’s saying something considering the amount of change the music industry was undergoing at the time of their inception. Disco was fading, hip-hop was emerging and musical genres were becoming more and more distinctive. Thanks in part to the popularity of sci-fi horror series Stranger Things, a lot of really cool sonic gems from the 80’s are being revived, including “The Ghost in You” by Psychedelic Furs.
The band opened their set with “Love my Way,” one of their early hits from the album Forever Now, while an eager crowd cheered at the mere sight of them. Other than a few visual reminders that time had passed, the experience was like a time warp. The band sounded great, they were full of emotion, and lead singer Richard Butler performed with the same signature dance moves that epitomized the 80’s. Chin up, chest out, arms wide… it was lots of fun!
Midway through the set they played a brand new, unreleased song called “The Boy That Invented Rock and Roll.” Even though I obviously didn’t recognize it, the song didn’t sound out of place at all slotted in right before “Pretty in Pink,” which was the obvious fan favourite of the evening.
The rest of the set was essentially a live version of their greatest hits, which quite frankly, is what everyone was there to see. Like most others, I enjoyed hearing “Pretty in Pink” and “Heaven” the most, but I also really loved the encore song. I didn’t recognize it, but according to Setlist FM, it was called “India”. I loved how it opened with a wail from the saxophone, and the version I heard seemed to have more energy behind it than what I’ve seen from subsequent YouTube versions (which have confirmed it as the tune).
This was without a doubt a show aimed at pleasing fans of The Psychedelic Furs and with the help of the Orpheum’s theatric atmospheric, it hit the mark.
I’m glad, I didn’t realize how many songs of James I knew before the show because I probably would have ended up being really bummed they hardly played any of them. I’m still a little disappointed that I didn’t get to hear “Laid” live. Such a great song! Luckily, members of ensemble from Manchester are prolific songwriters and their catalog is stacked with great tunes, many of which were hits in their native UK. So instead of feeling bummed, I feel like I discovered a cool new band that evening, England’s version of the Tragically Hip.
Lead singer, Tim Booth kind of blew me away with how he was able to move his body and I can see why he was first recruited to the band as a dancer. Most people I know would hurt themselves if they tried something similar, myself included. Booth was backed by no less than 8 other musicians, all equally as invested in expressing themselves in the moment. It made for a captivating and immersive performance.
As an audience member, I loved the use of lighting to enhance the mood even though it made photographing them a challenge. The rhythm section drives most of the brooding melodies and the added visual ambiance was well choreographed to match the beats. I let myself get absorbed into what I would describe as really aggressive meditation, which apparently is my jam because I was digging it.
One highlight was an emotional, but rarely performed number called “All I’m Saying,” a tribute to a friend of theirs that didn’t want anyone to know she had cancer. Near the end of the set they played “Come Home,” which was the one song I did recognized, and one that seemed to really energize the crowd, which had been out of their seats the whole performance.
They closed with “Getting Away With it (All Messed Up)” and about halfway through, Booth pulled an audience member up on the stage to party with them. Then he reached into the crowd again and pulled someone else on the stage. I estimate that by the end of the song between twenty and thirty fans were busting a move on the stage with them.
I don’t know if they do that every night, but it was an effective way to leave the devoted audience feeling connected and satisfied.
I didn’t get to hear enough of this young band from Los Angeles to get a good feel for them, because they only played for about twenty minutes, but what I saw I liked. They perform with lots of energy and have obviously been inspired by the momentous 80’s revival. It would be great to see them up here again sometime soon.
photo gallery below (as far as style goes, it’s kind of like a three in one this time) … click the image to enlarge.