mon 20/11/2017

The Psychedelic Furs, Concorde 2, Brighton review - classy new wave pop ruined by bad sound | reviews, news & interviews

The Psychedelic Furs, Concorde 2, Brighton review - classy new wave pop ruined by bad sound

The Psychedelic Furs, Concorde 2, Brighton review - classy new wave pop ruined by bad sound

Rare gig by well-loved 1980s alt-pop outfit undermined by fudged sonics

They save a fortune on hair gel these days

This is, in many ways, an underwhelming evening, but the fault does not primarily lie with The Psychedelic Furs. Things start well with support act Lene Lovich who gives a lively performance, in a black’n’red ensemble with striped sleeves and a gigantic, beribboned, plaited wig/hair/hat confabulation which has something of Big Chief Sitting Bull about it. Despite not playing her only Top 10 hit, 1979’s “Lucky Number”, she whoops and theatricalises while her band delivers a suitably punchy new wave racket.

The Psychedelic Furs aren’t going to get away with not playing the hits, especially as this round of gigs is entitled the Singles Tour. The curious thing is that they didn’t really have any big hits. Despite a hefty and deserved reputation, based on their grittily swooning first three albums, and moments from the fourth, they only had two bona fide Top 40 singles. One of these, “Pretty in Pink”, they dispose of early in the set, almost throwing it away. Like Simple Minds with “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, they allegedly have a tricky relationship with the song, due to its Hollywood recontextualisation by writer/director John Hughes (in the 1986 film of the same name: at least The Psychedelic Furs wrote their most famous song; Simple Minds, whose song was used in Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, did not).

All but one band member wear shades throughout - it was ever thus

Ostensibly reformed since the Millennium, this band has not been very active, until now. In concert, they're a six-piece, very much fronted by the two brothers, Richard and Tim Butler, who kickstarted the group during the Seventies punk era, although Sax player Mars Williams is also a big presence, showboating hither and yon. Most members wear hussar-style military coats with lines of closely set brass buttons, although Richard Butler, the frontman, soon takes his off to reveal what appears to be a dotted black pyjama top with white piping around the lapels. All but one band member wear shades throughout. It was ever thus.

Their set runs in the approximate chronological order of their single releases. This is not necessarily a good thing, as they begin with their richest material, cuts such as “Danger”, “Mr Jones” and, especially, “Love My Way”, which closed with a wolfish howl from its singer; then things slowly bog down in later, lesser fare, although they save their other hit, “Heaven”, until the end, before an encore of first album gold. The big problem, though, is the sound.

The Psychedelic Furs’ music is nuanced. It always had a heartfelt, frowning subtlety, with its rock sensibility more in line with Roxy Music or David Bowie than, say, The Damned, and yet the sound from the stage tonight is a smudged, indistinct blur of distortion, with the singing inaudibly fudged way down in the mix. It’s crappy. Putting all my cards on the table, I should mention there are also a few very irritating gig-goers who somewhat spoil my enjoyment. I grow heartily sick of precious, stock still, middle-aged once-were's who regard rock gigs as standardised church ceremonies they’re super-entitled to watch, unhindered by anything lively, social or rock’n’roll.

The Psychedelic Furs appear to be having a ball. Their set-list could do with tweaking but if you say you’re going to play the singles then you have to play the singles! There are rumours of a new album, their first in over a quarter of century, and the band seem invigorated. It bodes well. As for tonight, the difference between what they played and what we heard very much undermined this show.

Overleaf: watch The Psychedelic Furs perform "Love My Way"

The sound from the stage tonight is a smudged, indistinct blur of distortion, with the singing inaudibly fudged way down in the mix

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Comments

I've never read such a misguided review of a gig as this before. The band were exceptional on the night and the sound was 10 out of 10 !!! The songs played brilliantly. Think the reviewer needs to appreciate what the furs were and are about before writing such a ham fisted and inaccurate account .

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters