Review by Chloe Gynne

It’s a balmy Friday and the South Bank is packed full of tourists watching buskers do Ed Sheeran covers. Meanwhile, over at the Southbank Centre, The Cure’s Robert Smith has curated something a little different to that for this year’s Meltdown Festival.

The lineup boasts a wealth of bands, including Nine Inch Nails, Placebo, Death Cab For Cutie and Deftones- yes, as you can see, Robert Smith is bravely giving male musicians the increased platform they clearly need- as well as tonight’s act, The Psychedelic Furs.

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Photo Credit: Vic Frankowski

One of London’s leading new wave bands back in the day, the crowd is full of old fans, each with their own song and album preference. A few, like this writer, are a little younger, and seem to have had their education from the band’s contribution to movies- namely ‘Pretty in Pink’ and ‘Call Me By Your Name’.

Combined, it takes a moment for the seated audience- and, in fact, the band- to find their pace. Opener ‘Dumb Waiter’ seems to go on a bit too long, and lacks that post punk punch you’d expect from the band.

But it only takes a few songs for all that to flip. As frontman Richard Butler snarls through the all too relevant lyrics from 1982’s ‘President Gas’, back-seat dwellers storm the front rows, filling aisles and, inspiring the entire room to get up and enjoy themselves finally. It all comes together at once, and the band, watching on, feed from the energy of the crowd as much as this crowd feels the weight of the song’s message.

It would seem that even Butler- a character that exudes confidence- seems a little humbled by the response. The band speaks little to the crowd, but they instead offer thanks by launching into a series of classic hits, including ‘The Ghost In You’ and ‘Love My Way’, the latter inciting some Armie Hammer-esque dance moves.

While the dedicated remain glued to the front rows for the final few songs of the set, the age of the audience becomes a little more apparent as more people flock back to their seats for a sit down. The Furs, however, maintain the energy of a band who could have only just started their career. Butler motions to the balcony, engaging even the most distant fan, while the rest of the band pace the stage, playing up to the front seats.

It’s clear to see they’re enjoying this hometown set, and from the applause that echoes around the Royal Festival Hall by the end of ‘Pretty In Pink’, it’s obvious that this crowd agrees. The band manages to combine nostalgia with the present in a way many seasoned artists fail to do. They achieve this in their enjoyment of playing these songs, regardless of how many times they’ve stood on similar stages and repeated those wise lyrics, those glorious riffs, those unforgettable melodies. As Butler shakes the hands of some overjoyed fans down the front, the key to it all is clear- the band know what the crowd wants from them, and they enjoy delivering it well. And tonight, that’s exactly what they do.

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