The Psychedelic Furs at Lee's Palace, April 1. Tickets: $28.50. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Psychedelic furs frontman Richard Butler didn't keep changing from one flamboyant costume to another Friday night at Lee's Palace , the way he used to back in the band's mid-80s heyday. Instead, he remained clad in one basic black, nondescript outfit. Sunglasses sitting on his face, he shook his skinny little ass, pouted and postured in the way he and his countrymen made famous, raising again the question that's for decades baffled scientists: is it gay or just British?
Butler effortlessly evokes the days when men and women alike swooned for a man in pancake makeup and a kimono. Perhaps it's his raspy, attitudinous baritone, imitated by many, which is to post-punk what a nasal whine is to emo. Or the fact that Butler and boys have done absolutely nothing of consequence for over a decade and have thus managed to preserve their keys-heavy, rhythmically dense sound unsullied. Butler released two albums with Love Spit Love, and guitarist John Ashton has done some producing, but you know what I mean.
Whatever the reason, the Furs seem to typify the new wave, post-punk, big-haired 80s. While they may not be the most famous band of that era, their complete lack of progress has certainly made them one of the most definitive.
Their every note and movement is mired in the decade of cocaine, melancholy and decadence. And as far as that goes, they do it extremely well, transporting a large segment of the now nearing-middle-age crowd back to their youth. The band, which includes brothers Richard and Tim Butler and Ashton along with keyboardist Amanda Kramer and Love Spit Love's Frank Ferrer , looked mainly stoic as they ran us through a barrage of major and lesser hits including Love My Way, President Gas, Heaven, Into You Like A Train, Mr. Jones and more. Many more.
Yes, the Furs have managed to date themselves just about as much as possible, which makes me a tad nervous about Butler's upcoming solo effort, but in his own words he doesn't think he can change the world and is happy just knowing he's enabling people to have a good time.
If the lady who looks like she just came from her job selling real estate bustin' old-skool moves next to me is any indication, he's accomplished his mission.