Friday, July 1, 2011

The Psychedelic Furs - "Dumb Waiters" from the CD Talk Talk Talk

Psychedelic Furs Talk Talk Talk CD cover
So the U2 360° tour passed through town Wednesday. I was not at Sun Life Stadium for the event, nor had I wished to be.

I have instead put my measly weekly discretionary income aside for The Psychedelic Furs, who are playing The Culture Room tonight.

If I were looking for the authentic concert experience, and why wouldn't I be, then it probably should have been the U2 show I steered myself toward. After all, U2 released a new album of original material as recently as two years ago, and they are touring of course with a lineup composed entirely of original members.

Taking a quick look at the Psych Furs' Wikipedia page and at the band's own site, I see that the last time the Furs released a new album of original material, it was 1991, and that only two out of six in the current touring lineup were onhand 31 years ago for the debut elpee.

Consider that tickets to the U2 show could have been had for as little as thirty bucks, and that The Culture Room is asking 25 tonight, and I appear to have allocated my time and my money somewhat rashly.

The question, then, almost assaults you in its eagerness to be formed: Why would I wanna go see some nostalgia band when for almost the same dough I could have gone to see something that is continuing to evolve?

Well, the smartass answer to that question is simply that I don't like what U2 is evolving into.

Seriously, I liked the Irish blokes in the '80's, when Bono 'n' The Edge 'n' Adam Clayton 'n' Larry Mullen basically copyrighted the angular postpunk pop anthem. But their music in the nineties and in the aughts moved away from that sound, into some kind of nethergroove I don't get, and I chose--rightly I think--not to follow.

And if The Psychedelic Furs have stopped evolving because they've stopped producing original music, maybe the most important upshot of that is that they stopped growing at a place where I still liked them.

The Furs' site says that their current set of dates is the "Talk Talk Talk 30th Anniversary Tour," and though I don't know if any Furs album is the complete masterpiece that would truly deserve such honorifics, I still think the fact that they'll be playing their second album in order tonight, in its entirety, is pretty cool.

Even if John Ashton and Vince Ely and Duncan Kilburn won't be some of the ones playing it.

* * * * * * * *

I see, as they are fond of saying on the internet, what I did there. After spending two days writing condescendingly about the nostalgia process and the way it replaces critical listening, I lay down some bullshit that suggests nostalgia's OK when I choose to invoke it.

Guilty, I suppose.

Psychedelic Furs Midnight to Midnight CD CoverThis won't be the first time I've seen The Psychedelic Furs, as it happens. I think it was 1987 and the band was touring off Midnight to Midnight. If that album wasn't the band's artistic height, it was certainly the height of their success, and its promo tour came to the fancy-ass James L Knight Center at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami.

I remember that the newest AOR station in town at the time, WGTR, was sponsoring the thing, their personnel as they raised the banners and introduced the show blithely ignoring the sad fact that the station featured none of The Furs' music in their daily playlists. The station had brought along their two-and-a-half storey inflatable guitar-playing monkey, and had tried to raise it outside the hall, but it, fittingly and pathetically both, was in a sad state, non compos erectus, I guess you could say.

Maybe it was because of the ringtail radio station or that monkey or the sad truth that once I got inside, I was completely sober. But despite the fact that the show was well-played, and well-engineered, with no glaring mistakes of performance or of sound, I left the show a little bit annoyed.

I think it was mostly the lighting. The band had a huge glitzy sign that swung forward at louder moments, practically illuminating the entire hall in faceted diamond light, and the whole thing looked and felt so Hollywood and so mechanical to me. It sure as fuck didn't feel like the Psychedelic Furs, who had always seemed much darker, much smokier, much more noir than all that gaudy rockstar bullshit.

I think Richard Butler will tell you now that Midnight to Midnight was the closest his band came to a sellout album, and would agree if you told him the album was his band's most blatant attempt to enter the mainstream. And I guess I just found some measure of offense in the way that the lighting and the stage show were so blatantly mainstream, as well. I was, like, I'm not sure who told these guys they were stars, but . . . .

Anyway, the Culture Room, while having made some improvements over the past few years, is still a hot and sweaty dive and a major fire trap, to boot. Maybe a better name for the band I'll be seeing tonight would be "The Butler Brothers Plus a Few Guys Who Played On Midnight to Midnight." But let's not quibble. If I can be pardoned for reaching back into my past, three quarters of the reason I'm taking the plunge this eve is that I'm hoping maybe tonight I'll see the Psychedelic Furs as they should be seen.

File Under: Concerts That Rastro Went To


R S Crabb said...

I think I came late to the Psych Furs, fact I didn't have any of their stuff till I found All Of This And Nothing at the pawnshop for two dollars and then filled in the gaps. Talk Talk Talk remains my fave of their albums, the debut a close second. Midnight To Midnight may have been their attempt to storm the top forty (and failed) I thought the next album Book of Days was more of a desperate attempt to sell out. Although I have Midnight on Vinyl I think I only played the first side but not the second. I may have been a bit put off by it's polished sound but one of these days I'll play side 2 and see what I missed. Which may not be much from what I'm told. ;)

rastronomicals said...

Hello Mr. Smith

Good show if not great.

I was actually pretty impressed by two of the replacement members: Grey-haired Mars Williams was a saxophonist more than good enough for rock and roll, though he changed some of the solos here and there, which bothered me some even when they were quite jammin'.

Says here Richard Good was the name of the guitarist, and he had quite the effects arsenal, one large enough to ape John Ashton with ease if I dare say it, plenty of echoplex and overdrive and infinite delay.

He was so versatile in fact that he was several times asked to fill in in the arrangements for the chick keyboard player, who--how can I say this?--wasn't very good.

Good also bears a passing resemblance to a young Jeff Beck, which doesn't mean that much except it's still kinda cool.

I was pretty impressed with Tim Butler's bass tone. He's not Chris Squire, you know, but he wasn't afraid to get fat and nasty with it, and he worked well with the drummer.

I thought both Butler brothers looked good, I guess they're both in their mid-fifties now. Is it possible that Richard's voice has gotten less raspy?

They broke the show into two sets. The first one was Talk Talk Talk, in its entirety as promised and in the original UK LP order. So "Dumb Waiters" was the first song, and unfortunately the vocal mix was too low for the first stanza or so. The song also wasn't quite as skwonky-noise as it could/should have been. But good to hear nonetheless.

And as I feared, some of the songs I had forgotten from the album weren't quite worth replaying. "No Tears" and "She's Mine" in particular could have been skipped to no particular loss.

but I guess if they'd done that it wouldn't have been a thirtieth anniversary tour.

The highlights of the first set were probably "Mr. Jones" and "Into You Like A Train" back to back, pretty smoking, the band had caught fire by that point, and strong material to start with.

The audience started clapping and hootin' and hollerin' before the ace version they did of "All of This And Nothing" had finished, which appeared to annoy Richard.

They took a ten-minute break and came back with a more-or-less greatest hits set, opening with "Sister Europe." The song Seemed a little ragged to me, but I'll admit it's an atmospheric tune, that must be difficult to capture live.

"Love My Way" followed, and it was tighter, and probably the song the crowd knew best. But the bad trip organ solo midway through and the similar fills toward the end were replaced in the arrangement with a guitar runs, and it just didn't sound right to me.

I wasn't thrilled with "Hearbeat," either and I now know that I actively dislike "Heartbreak Beat." But man, did they nail "President Gas," and "Heaven" made me totally nostalgic for that video where Richard Butler is dancing in the rain.

Second tune of the encore was "Forever Now," and I thought that was a great song to close with, thirty years, Forever Now.


Talk Talk Talk
1. "Dumb Waiters"
2. "Pretty In Pink"
3. "I Wanna Sleep With You"
4. "No Tears"
5. "Mr. Jones"
6. "Into You Like A Train"
7. "It Goes On"
8. "So Run Down"
9. "All Of This And Nothing"
10. "She Is Mine"
Second Set
11. "Sister Europe"
12. "Love My Way"
13. "Heartbeat"
14. "President Gas"
15. "Highwire Days"
16. "Heaven"
17. "Heartbreak Beat"
18. "My Time"
19. "Forever Now"

rastronomicals said...

Rastro Psych Furs Top Ten List

Please, no wagering

 1. "Dumb Waiters"
 2. "Sister Europe"
 3. "President Gas"
 4. "Love My Way"
 5. "The Ghost In You"
 6. "India"
 7. "All That Money Wants"
 8. "We Love You"
 9. "Heaven"
10. "Mr. Jones"

TAD said...

R: I am liking the nostalgic lean of yer recent posts, & enjoyed the review of the concert. I'm sure you realize you haven't actually written anything about "Dumb Waiters," but that's OK if you just wanna use it as a diving board in2 what you really wanted to write about.... You're allowed to be nostalgic 2, ya know....
Speaking of nostalgia, I had the radio on at work again tonite & somebody played The Beatles' "I'm Down," which I hadn't heard in YEARS -- can't actually remember the last time, so no nostalgia here -- & it's freaking hilarious! Not only is McCartney's vocal a scream (literally), but the guys deadpan "I'm really down" in the background, & there's that line at the end where Paul talks about his date whining that he should keep his hands to himself.... Now I see why people say they "threw this song away" as the B-side 2 "Help!" ...& you guys probly know all this already... Anyway, it sure woke me up....

rastronomicals said...

Hey Tad

Yes has a live version of "I'm Down" that I'm partial to, as well. It was recorded in the '70's and Jon Anderson pretty much screams his ass off, it's a lot of fun, too.

Adrian Belew put a version of it on Twang Bar King, and the solo on that one is in fact a twang bar flipout