The Psychedelic Furs – London 2017

Crossposted from Riserdrummer.Wordpress.Com

Last Saturday was a date long-awaited in my calendar: the welcome return of The Psychedelic Furs to London after five long years. Their Singles tour has taken in nine UK cities, as well as dates in Europe, South America, and an extensive US road trip. Pretty much every date in the UK has sold out. and that’s without a new album to advertise or anything crassly commercial like that.

Nope – this was a tour for music fans, by music fans, delivering happiness, dancing, singing and memories both on-stage and off.

I’ll come to the headliners in a moment, but first, a few thoughts about the support.

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I want to know who booked Lene Lovich so I can shake their hand. As support, the choice of music’s maddest act was inspired. Lene and her band played a set of familiar and not-so-familiar tunes to an audience who literally lapped up every note. Just the same now as she was back in the early 80s, Lene Lovich still hits the highest of high notes with a style and a smile all her own. The audience loved her, and the platform for the main act was firmly set.

Then came the Furs. And boy, did they deliver.

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Rarely will you see a band so together. Fronted by the brilliantly eclectic Richard Butler, whose vocals and physical presence on stage mesmerises, The Psychedelic Furs are – in my eyes and ears at least – the very definition of the perfect gigging band. There’s the rock-solid rhythm section of Tim Butler on bass and my friend, the awesome Paul Garisto on drums. These two threw down a firm foundation for the three melodious ones, all of whom I could write paragraphs about. Rich Good‘s guitar work is effortless perfection, Amanda Kramer‘s keyboard work is so spot on that it hurts when she stops, and there’s very little I can say about Mars Williams‘ sax playing that could possibly do his genius enough justice.

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Starting with Dumb Waiter and running through to a second encore with President Gas, we called in at all the familiar stops, spanning a career that has seen their fan base grow and grow. All the favorites were there, including Mr Jones, Heartbreak Beat, Heaven, India, and – naturally – Pretty In Pink.

However, a mere track listing wouldn’t reflect the sheer exuberance and joy coming off the stage. The Psychedelic Furs really do have to be seen to be believed.

I attended the gig with my brother (to whom I introduced The Furs back in 2012) and an old friend Pete, who has actually written his memoirs around gigs he’s attended. Given there are many, many hundreds to measure against, when he turned to me at the end and simply mouthed “How awesome was THAT!”, you knew you’d been there at a special time.

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I managed to catch up with Paul and Richard after the gig, and both confirmed what I thought – they had had such a good time, and were still on a buzz from the show. Paul particularly was amazingly relaxed and happy, and said that he’d not felt so comfortable and chilled at a gig for ages. It certainly showed in his playing.

Next time I’ll bring my copy of Talk Talk Talk for Richard to sign. Thankfully – according to him – this will hopefully not be too far away, as they are already starting to discuss a return trip to the UK. When they do come back, get your tickets early, because The Psychedelic Furs really will be the hottest show in town.

 

Train / Magic Numbers / Natasha North – O2 London. 24 March 2015

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Picking my daughters’ favourite band? Easy. Whilst their friends are all boy-band crazy, or turning a little bit Emo, my girls are huge fans of US rockers Train. So when we saw that they were appearing at the O2, of course we were going to be there.

Now, I’m not usually a fan of huge arena gigs, preferring the smaller, more intimate venues where you can really engage with the artist. So I went with a mix of expectations: excited for the girls, looking forward to Train (they are very good) and apprehension that the size of the venue might dwarf the experience.

First on was a singer unknown to me. Natasha North hails from Beaconsfield, in the rural commuter belt just outside London. Her blend of acoustic guitar, synth strings, and rhythmic percussion filled the arena, and her haunting vocals really kicked the evening off well. She declared to the appreciative crowd that this was ‘the biggest gig of her life’ which made her performance all the better, as she really stepped up to the plate. Check her site out at http://www.natashanorth.com

Following on from Natasha were The Magic Numbers. Hailing from my own home town of Hanwell, I was looking forward to a blend of rock and pop delivered with style and setting us all up for the main event. So I was a little disappointed to find their set comprised a very formulaic blend of bland, uninspiring tunes delivered in a style that suggests they had watched ‘How To Play Rock On Stage #101’ before stepping out. I saw all the poses, all the wide-legged stances, and all the guitar-waving, but the music didn’t live up to the billing. They weren’t bad as such, just a bit… well, meh… Check out http://themagicnumbers.net

And so to Train.

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Formed in 1993 in Los Angeles, Train have consistently delivered well-crafted, catchy rock tunes for more than two decades. In Pat Monahan they have the secret ingredient every successful band needs – a charismatic frontman. Pat’s ability to engage fully with the audience, and his flawless delivery of their catalogue, set the arena alight. This I know to be true, because from the word go, my girls were utterly enthralled. yelling the lyrics to every song at the top of their voices, taking pictures and selfies, they were in heaven.

With songs such as Angel In Blue Jeans, Hey Soul Sister, Bruises, 50 Ways To Say Goodbye and Drops Of Jupiter, Train have identified their sound, and deliver their songs with confidence and energy. And it’s clear that they love what they do, an emotion that spills out to the enraptured audience.

I can pay them one more compliment, which for me shows their skill: They made a huge auditorium feel like a small club. You don’t get better than that.

Train‘s website is http://savemesanfrancisco.com – check it out for more information about my girls’ favourite band!