Concert Review: Psychedelic Furs, March 29, Lee’s Palace

Like the lure of the siren song, the Psychedelic Furs are the latest in a never-ending renaissance of 80’s acts that are touring extensively again. Widely advertised as a SOLD OUT show, IDVDK braved the cold for a 30-minute line-up at Lee’s palace and got some of the reserved door tickets, but the mounting line-up at 8:30 PM suggested that this was a hotly billed show. I suppose those in the more mature age brackets peg a lot of sentimentality with this group–it’s not hard to see why. John Hughes’ high school movies are responsible for a widespread malaise of such feel-good messages as love conquers all, and that everyone inevitably gets their girl or boy if they’ve abided by the old adage “to thine own self be true”.

The band probably reached their pinnacle in the mid-80’s with Mirror Moves, but their 1986 version of Pretty in Pink is what catapulted them into the public’s vernacular. It’s too bad, considering the no-sax original is still superior in my head.

John Hughes was a guilty habit for me, and the happy ending in PIP  kind of makes me sad (wasn’t it clear that Ducky was a masked homosexual and that Steff was in love with Blane?)–it’s the titivating build-up that matters. So perhaps this is why I always go into these re-living the classics shows with a disconnect. On the one hand I’ll be pleased to hear songs I haven’t thought about in a long time, live. On the other hand, I’ll be hoping my fond memories don’t die. The Butler Brothers (with saxophonist Mars Williams) managed to stoke the nostalgia flame by going through all of their classics (though to Josh’s chagrin, Heartbeat was omitted).

SETLIST

Into You Like A Train
Alice’s House
Pretty In Pink
Only You and I
Imitation of Christ
It Goes On
The Ghost In You
Heaven
Like a Stranger
My Time
Highwire Days
Love My Way
Heartbreak Beat

Encore:
House
President Gas
Forever Now

Some of these went off better than others, just in terms of arrangements and setlist choices. Backloading most of the greatest hits into the latter half of the set meant a slower (comfortable) start, but once Pretty in Pink elicited table dancing and massive old-people enthusiasm, they relaxed a bit and Butler’s voice (still one of the most distinctive of the decade; maybe even ever) evened out. They looked good, showed a great deal of enthusiasm in spite of weird arm dance moves, and generally adapted most of their hits quite well. Love My Way still plays as one of the best percussion-driven songs of the decade and Highwire Days still best showcases Butler’s raspy chords.

Somehow though, throughout the set I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the 80s saxophone ‘s best suited forum is in the Night Court theme song.

Mars Williams did a fine job of it though, and glib comments aside, was probably the highlight of the band (I also really liked his blazer).

On a completely unrelated side note though, it really really sucks when you’re standing behind someone who really needs a Gas-X / Phazyme / Depends Adult Diaper at a sold out show. Also, who booked the rockabilly version of the Jonas Brothers as the opener?

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