When The Psychedelic Furs burst onto the art rock scene in the late '70s, people didn't really know what to call the band. Labeled post-punk for their arrival after the punk explosion, yet preceding the torrent of new wave that engulfed the '80s, The Psychedelic Furs scored huge hits both in their native UK and here in the states. They found new levels of critical and popular acclaim in 1986 with a re-recorded version of “Pretty In Pink” after John Hughes used it in his classic teenage dramedy of the same name. Other songs such as “Heaven,” “Love My Way,” and “Heartbreak Beat” all registered high on British and American charts. They were the sound of a generation caught between the Baby Boomers and Generation X. Three decades later, all of The Breakfast Club kids may be grown up, but judging from the crowd's response at a sold out Culture Room show this past Saturday night, they're memories haven't faded.
Opening for the Furs were Astari Nite, a Miami-based, dark-wave band playing their own version of dreary, gothic English rock. With hints of Morrissey and The Cure (and to a lesser extent, Interpol), Astari Nite was a proper fit for the Furs. Early on, vocalist Mychael Ghost — wearing a magnificently disinterested and slightly suicidal expression — moped about on stage in his jet black suit, immersed in all of the traditions and affectional tropes of mid-80's emo-rock. However, about four songs in, the four-piece picked up the pace with a punchier number that smoothly led into the uptempo vibe of the evening's headliner.
On its 1984 hit, “The Ghost in You,” the Furs' lead singer Richard Butler croons, “Inside you the time moves and she don't fade.” Time is an inevitable force that pummels everything, hairspray loving rock stars and their fans included. Aging gracefully isn't always easy for either fleshy humans or the songs that they sing, however, sometimes a band creates something everlasting.
Butler, his brother Tim, and the rest of the Furs strolled on to the Culture Room's stage with unbelieving grins. They marveled at the packed room and the packed room marveled back. There's a good chance that many in the audience that night had either A) never seen The Psychedelic Furs before or B) saw them live a lifetime ago. Regardless, all in attendance were happy this reunion was taking place. There was an infectious joy as the Furs strutted and swooned through its greatest hits.
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In fact, despite the chill groove permeating the band, the Furs were astoundingly energetic — even as the members played up the “psychedelic” aspect of their name. Tim Butler bore a striking resemblance to Austin Powers, and the band's keyboardist spent most of the night smiling peacefully like a woman who owns many crystals and a bevy of incense holders.
Although some silver hair and wrinkles reminded us that it wasn't 1987 anymore, there was a youthful exuberance present during the show that pervades all great rock and roll. Richard Butler engaged in all the familiar stage moves of the band's heyday. It was a concert that went to show that we're never too late or too adult to relive our carefree glory years. The Psychedelic Furs proved that — even three decades later — the band was able to pick up where they left off without missing a step, or in this case, a beat.