Gig review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown with photography by Ken Harrison.

So tonight we’re off to Brum to see a band that you could say are a band’s band. They inspired a raft of subsequent bands; from all strands of their journey from their formation and roots in punk, new wave or the latter US commercial inspired rock hits they had post MTV. Extended hiatus (or split) in the early 90s, it was the early noughties before they came back together and have toured ever since (with a hint of an album in the pipeline?) – welcome tonight  The Psychedelic Furs.

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Up first comes Lene Lovich, the English-American singer who first came to the fore way back in 79 with ‘Lucky Number.’ Her guitarist grew up in Brum, and remembers seeing a band called The Charlottes here??? The crowd aren’t sure, Lovich’s band strike up a bass beat and on she comes, head engulfed by a black head scarf –  Hello, she says, “Ooh. I like it…”  Lovich and her band give us a 45 minute set, with a variety of tracks including ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ (remember Tiffany’s version?) and indeed ‘Lucky Number.’ Lovich isn’t a spring chicken anymore – but hey – the voice is there and she bops around the stage with her band throughout her set, with a bit of art-house speech thrown in for good measure. She’s fun and slightly eccentric – what more could you ask for?

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And so to The Furs. Tonight’s gig isn’t sold out but it’s pretty full, which is nice – it gives us space rather than being crushed like sardines. I saw The Furs in their 80’s heyday at The Odeon in Brum. I can only remember that – 1. it was the only time I was up in the balcony, and 2. that they were really good. And I suspect the ticket cost be £5.

Tonight’s line-up remains Richard Butler (he of gravelly vocals), Tim Butler (brother of Richard on bass), Rich Good (guitar), Mars Williams (saxophone), Amanda Kramer (keyboards) and Paul Garisto (drums). Woof whistles and a massive cheer goes up as they take to the stage.

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The Furs are massively slick and professional front the outset as their set starts off with ‘Dumb Waiters’ from their 1981 album ‘Talk Talk Talk.’ ‘We Love You’ shows the journey on tonight’s set; this is early, punky, new wave Furs.

Elegant bow from the charismatic Butler R: “Hello Birmingham.” before ‘Mr. Jones.’ While hits came a-flowing worldwide for The Furs, the next track initially from “Talk Talk Talk’ and then re-recorded and re-issued with a more commercial vibe to accompany the film of the same title ‘Pretty in Pink’ should be a bit of an albatross around their shoulders – but it isn’t. They deliver the (rawer) version bang on the money.

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‘Danger’  and Butler R. prowls around the stage. This is clearly his place, his domain, but definitely a man of few words tonight. ‘Love My Way’  is stripped back, maybe less polished than what we are used to, Butler’s vocals crawl through the lyrics….

And they continue through their hits: ‘Run and Run’, ‘Until She Comes’, ‘Ghost In You’, ‘Heartbeat’, ‘Angels Don’t Cry’,’All That Money Wants’. ‘Heartbreak Beat’ as the sax and rhythm guitar strikes up, we are clearly in the zone where The Furs where at their height in commercial sound, taken from their ‘Midnight to Midnight’ album…


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And then main set complete – with ‘Heaven’. And we sing” Heaven is the home of our hearts, And heaven don’t tear you apart, Heaven…”

And while we wait for the return, when The Furs went on hiatus, the Butler Brothers formed Love Spit Love – no tracks here from this side project tonight, but that musical outing was probably most noticeable for the theme to the US sister witch series, ‘Charmed’, with their cover of The Smiths “How Soon Is Now?”, originally recorded for the film ‘The Craft.’

Meanwhile back to tonight’s proceedings. The band take to the stage with a encore of ‘Sister Europe’ and ‘India.’ Leaving the stage, the house lights rise and that’s all folks.

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So tonight’s Furs set was indeed massively professional and good fun. I remember them being ‘good’ in the day and it’s great to see that they are equally as good thirty odd years on. As I listen to their greatest hits while I complete this review – it’s amazing what they didn’t play  – ‘Alice’s House’ (one of my personnel favourites), ‘Sleep Comes Down’, ‘President Gas.’  If you are a fan – they are well worth your  hard earned pennies.


Setlist:
Dumb Waiters
We Love You
Mr. Jones
Pretty In Pink
Danger
Love My Way
Run and Run
Until She Comes
Ghost In You
Heartbeat
Angels Don’t Cry
All That Money Wants
Heartbreak Beat
Don’t Be A Girl
House
Heaven

Encore:
Sister Europe
India

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