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THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS @ THE RITZ BALLROOM, MANCHESTER - REVIEW BY PHIL KING - PHOTOS & VIDEOS BY MEL

These last few years it’s become fashionable for groups to pick an album from their back catalogue and perform the entire thing live. Last year I witnessed Howard Devoto’s Magazine solid take on the post punk classic ‘The Correct Use Of Soap’, and then, at the beginning of this year I had the pleasure of watching Iggy and the Stooges rampage through the matchless ‘Raw Power’. The question is does the concept work? The answer is yes and no. Although in theory the idea is sound, I find that a concert of this nature can verge on nostalgia and loses a little by way of surprise because you always know what’s coming next. Personally I find it better if the band takes chances by mixing up their old and new stuff and keeping the audience on its toes. Of course this leads me nicely to tonight where I’m at the Ritz Ballroom to see the reconvened Psychedelic Furs perform arguably the best of their LP’s, the 1981 release ‘Talk, Talk, Talk’ .  

There aren’t that many bands who name the Psychedelic Furs as a major influence, which is unusual for a band that’s spent a considerable portion of its career in the upper reaches of the charts. Initially formed in 1977 by singer Richard Butler and his bass playing brother Tim, their band have experienced a few highs and lows over the course of it’s life though that shouldn’t distract from the fact that together they’ve created a sturdy and well-crafted cannon of work that boasts one or two undeniable gems. It’s been a while since the boys last gig in Manchester so we’re long overdue a visit.      

 

Surprisingly there were no support guests, so we had to wait until around 9pm before the band came on stage and by this time a sizable crowd had gathered. Though it wasn’t a sell-out, it wasn’t that far off when the black clad Psychedelic Furs strolled onto the stage to judder into life with a pristine version of ‘Dumb Waiters’. After that the band proceeded to lovingly reproduce the nine remaining tracks of ‘Talk, Talk, Talk’.  From the off it’s obvious that this version of the Psychedelic Furs are a professional and well rehearsed unit and they produce faithful copies of the originals with energy and enthusiasm. The anthemic ‘Pretty In Pink’ is an obvious high-light and gets welcomed like a long lost friend, while the crushing ‘Into You Like a Train’ gets the fans into a party mood.


More pleasing is that the band really looks like they’re enjoying themselves; Rich Good’s inventive guitar playing and Mars Williams’ blissful saxophone engage in some lovely passages of interplay while Amanda Kramer adds synthetic flourishes from behind her banks of keyboards. However the contributions of Tim Butler’s bass playing and Paul Garisto determination to keep everyone on the beat shouldn’t be ignored. Last but not least is the charismatic Richard Butler, who still remains the centre of attention of the band and burnishes the music with bona fide star quality. Most enjoyably is the way he plays up to the cameras which allows that little bit of intimacy with the front row. With a voice like sand and glue he skilfully manipulates the full expanse of the Ritz’s stage to act out the narrative of the songs. It’s a testament to his professionalism that he puts nothing less than 100% effort into an impassioned performance that keeps the audience spellbound throughout.

She Is Mine’ brings the both ‘Talk, Talk, Talk’ and the set to a close and the band leave the stage for a few minutes to catch their breath. They come back play a short selection of cherry-picked numbers from their back catalogue that puts a smile on huge everyone’s face. 

 

The band come back to perform a two song encore and finally bring the curtains down with the stately ‘India’, which is more than well received by the crowd at the back of us as we get jostled around.

Did it work?  Again yes and no.  It’s hard to deny that the sheer musical ability of this band added a rousing quality and managed to breathe new life into these sophisticated songs, but I still would have liked them to have performed a better spread of tracks.  Nevertheless a good gig and a really good band.     

Setlist: Talk, Talk, Talk:

Dumb Waiters
Pretty In Pink
I Wanna Sleep With You
No Tears
Mr. Jones
Into You Like a Train
It Goes On
So Run Down
All Of This And Nothing
She Is Mine

Second Set:

Sister Europe
Love My Way
In My Head
The Ghost In You
Highwire Days
Heaven

Encore:

President Gas
India

http://www.myspace.com/psychedelicfurs
http://thepsychedelicfurs.com

Review by Phil
Photos/videos by Mel