Sunday, January 11, 2015

Review: The Psychedelic Furs at the Ardmore Music Hall

The old Brownie's 23 East was jumping Friday Jan. 9.
Perhaps thinking that people had forgotten about them, since they haven't released any new music since 1991, one of the truly great bands of the '80s booked a show at Montgomery County's Ardmore Music Hall. The Psychedelic Furs officially sold the place out a couple weeks before the concert date. So surprise guys, people do still find the music you made -- punk aggression with heartfelt, desperate longing (and a honkin' dollop of saxophone) -- very meaningful. My wife noticed that the audience skewed to people of our "certain age," and gave the evening a vibe of parties she enjoyed back in the day.
Richard Butler still has that wonderfully distinct, nasal, smoky, Johnny-Rotten-snarling rasp, so he sounds cool singing anything. 
Here's a story that appeared in Ticket that reveals that new Furs music is pending.
Priding itself on having good sight lines, my suggestion to the Ardmore Music Hall -- which is an interesting hybrid of a general admission/standing club like the Trocadero with a cabaret having precious-few bar seats -- would be to cap the sell-outs at a slightly smaller number. By the time the Furs took the stage for the roaring opener, "Into You Like a Train," the best view I could get was an under-somebody-else's-butt-level angle.
 Whew! When there's a sell out at Ardmore, get there about when the doors open. You have been warned.
But before I tell you more about The Psychedelic Furs' performance, here's a few words about an unexpected bonus -- an opening set by the Philly band Travel Lanes. Being a fan of the local hook-based roots rock bands Buzz Zeemer and Flight of Mavis, I recognized Frank Brown's voice, which my wife astutely observed has quite a bit of Elvis Costello in it. That led to me tweeting @djcaterina about them, and getting confirmation that yup, that is the Buzz Zeemer guy. Travel Lanes' highlights included the Buzz Zeemer songs "Break My Heart" and "Crush." The latter sounded even better than the BZ recording. They also put an ace spin on The Ramones' "She's the One."
They smartly promoted their Jan. 24 show at Dawson Street Pub, but the deadpan quip of "we're a local band, which you can see ... locally" came across as snarky and rubbed me the wrong way. Dude, you're opening for the freakin' Psychedelic Furs! That's a plum slot for a new group; embrace that with a smidge more gratitude and enthusiasm, please!
 The Furs hit crowd-pleasers like "Pretty in Pink," "Love My Way," "Heaven" and these killer tunes:
video

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 They also mined their catalog for excellent songs like "Until She Comes," "Mr. Jones," "Only You and I," "Run and Run" (which lyrically is kind of a bookend companion song for "Pretty in Pink," IMO) and "Fall," which features this unforgettably sneering punk couplet:
Marry me and be my wife/You can have me all your life
Our love will never end/Parties with stupid friends
LOL -- damn!
Who'd have thunk it ... these songs have aged rather well, especially with the new life breathed into them by the band.

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