The Psychedelic Furs return to form in Glasgow

The re-scheduled UK tour finally reached Glasgow as the band play their new album live to a near capacity crowd

After waiting nearly 30 years for a new studio album release, The Psychedelic Furs finally released their follow up album “Made of Rain” in 2020. Add on another 2 years to tour the new material and that must have felt like a lifetime to brothers Richard and Tim Butler, but their music has never been far from the limelight. Their music transcended genres after the self-titled critically acclaimed debut album was quickly followed by Talk Talk Talk. In fact, the band’s first four albums spawned a good number of radio friendly classics which have been extensively used not only by their peers either through influence or direct use, but the film industry which has drawn upon the bands back catalogue many times. Notably, the recent Netflix smash Stranger Things, used “Ghost in You” and of course the Hollywood Brat Pack movie named after the song “Pretty in Pink” made them a household name. Having formed during the post-punk era, the brothers broke ranks from any possibility of being pigeonholed as punk by using the word psychedelic. 2022 sees the band touring extensively through out the year and thankfully, the hunger to see live acts again will have the venues packed to celebrate the bands return to form.

It’s a family affair in Glasgow’s SWG3 as Pauline Murray is joined on stage with her long term partner and husband Robert Blamire and their Son Alex on Keyboards and Daughter Grace on Vocals. Best known for being the front woman of Penetration, where she and Robert first formed the band, the Durham duo have played live for over 45 years! The multi-room venue in Glasgow was near to capacity as Pauline and her band took to the stage. The stark, clean cut, well-lit venue also benefits from a great PA. This all bode well for the evening as both bands served up some great musicianship. The delay to the tour saw Murray release a new album after the original scheduled tour date. That album “Elemental” provided three songs for the set and Murray looked genuinely happy she was able to share them with the eager audience. Opening with “Sympathy”, Murray paced the stage and demonstrated her voice has stood the test of time as her distinctive voice was unwavering though out the night. The catchy chorus of “Shoot You Down” caught a few folks out in the crowd as they sang along before Murray explained that the new album had been released during the Covid lockdown as she introduced “Secrets”. Some delightful guitar and keyboard work were augmented by the joint vocals of Pauline and Grace. The down to earth Durham lass informed the crowd that it’s only the second time the band in its current guise had played these songs. She picked up her Acoustic for “Shadow in My Mind” another track from “Elemental” and it led into the final song “Weeds” from the afore mentioned album. 

The subtlety in the delivery of music was grounded by Murrays melancholic delivery. The atmospheric “Drummer Boy” had a stark feel to it as the tom driven tribal drums came to the fore. “Thundertunes” was a particular highlight for me with the catchy riff and “Warning, Warning” resonating inside my head. Saving the best to last, the fitting “Judgement Day” was dedicated to Pauline’s iconic friend Jordan Mooney. A melancholic ending yet uplifting, the crowd gave a resounding cheer as the band took their leave.

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There was already a feel good factor in the venue as The Psychedelic Furs took the stage. The atmospheric lighting set the scene as the relatively low key set opener “Highwire Days” reminded everyone of the halcyon days of the band when they were at the height of their popularity. The enigmatic Richard Butler breezed his way through the first song and sounded exactly as he did all those years ago when the band broke into the charts with their particular brand of post-punk art rock. His distinctive voice set the band apart. “Dumb Waiters” closely followed the opener and Mars Williams seminal sax solos would come to the fore throughout the set, stealing the limelight from the rest of the band as his dynamic dexterity was dumbfounding at times. The set lit up when “Mr Jones” blasted out of the PA. Butler proved he had lost none of his playful charismatic swagger as he subtly commanded attention throughout the night. Proving the band are no one trick pony, each of the musicians took their turn in stealing the spotlight. The sublime guitar work from Richard Good and the welcome return of Roger Morris to the band during “Wrong Train” was matched by the delightful keyboard work of Amanda Kramer on “Ghost in You”. 

The newer material blended well into the set as the awkwardly engaging “Boy Who Invented Rock N Roll” preceded the infectious “No-One” both from the new album. The latter song wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Cure album. More fantastic lead work from Richard Good. It was always going to feature at one point during the set so mid-set was as good as any. “Pretty in Pink” may not be as welcomed as it once was but the over played classic still warrants acclaim even if its to live vicariously through Mars Williams as he continued to mesmerise with his talent. The crowd certainly showed their appreciation as they gave the hit song a resounding cheer. The hit’s kept coming with “Love My Way” and “President Gas” which showed the decadent side to Richard Butler as his provocative arm stretched salute would lead into a cut throat movement then a slow disapproving shake of the head. A cynical reminder of what’s going on in Europe right now. Richard’s brother Tim never rested throughout the set as he continuously moved around the stage often staring down the audience and at times playfully pointing and beckoning to the crowd. The band seemed to move up a gear with their 80’s classic hit “Heaven”. The somewhat nostalgic crowd bounced into life as they sprang into action. The tempo was dropped slightly as “Heartbreak Beat” closed out the main set but there had to be an encore after such a great performance.

The Psychedelic Furs could never disappoint the long standing fans without playing two of their earliest iconic songs. The band returned to play “Sister Europe” and “India”. The former kicked off with that unmistakable drum beat faithfully reproduced by Zack Alford and the subtle guitar and sax. The crowd were in singalong mode and Butlers uncanny resemblance to Bowie at times brought back the memories of listening to the classic song as a teenager in my bedroom. The opening track of that first album ended the night. The sweeping guitar intro made way to the thumping bass before the band were back in full flow. More mesmerising melody from Mars as his sweet sounding sax courted the crowd.  It will be a bust 2022 as the band complete the UK tour before they head for the U.S.A.

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