Photos, review: Psychedelic Furs at Summit Music Hall in Denver - Reverb

Live review: The Psychedelic Furs @ Summit Music Hall

Age had nothing on Richard Butler Wednesday night. In front of his lifelong band the Psychedelic Furs, Butler gleefully bounced, danced (even preened) as they played a 90-minute set at Summit Music Hall. Under a pair of hip, thick-rimmed glasses, he and brother Tim (on bass) and Mars Williams (on a particularly satisfying saxophone) filled the hall with energy throughout the set, and a largely older crowd responded in kind.

The band, rounded out by three other musicians on keys, drums and guitar, traveled through a history of their post-punk material that included seminal hits like “Pretty In Pink,” “Heaven,” “Heartbreak Beat” and “Love My Way” to name a few. When the band played “Easy Street” it felt as if they’d reached a turning point, after which the rest of the set relaxed into a long release. They followed with an encore that unleashed a strong, heartbreaking “All of This and Nothing” and a rousing “Only You and I,” after which they begrudgingly left the stage for good.

As appreciated as they were that night by an admittedly ‘80s-familiar crowd, the Furs still seemed to have some trouble getting past the feel of a period piece, albeit from a currently resurgent subset of ‘80s post-punk band reunions. Jubilant, for sure, yet there were times when the wear on the Butler brothers’ faces crept to the surface — usually as a noticeable loss of interest. Richard Butler usually appeared European, Cohen-esque and intellectual with his square glasses, but there were instances when his exuberance seemed to boil over into a too-heavy shade of panache, maybe cabaret. The audience didn’t seem to care.

Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz’s Talking Heads offshoot Tom Tom Club performed an enticing — if somewhat vapid — set before the Furs took the stage. Weymouth, joined in vocal duties by Victoria Clamp, led the six-piece through a set of the band’s ‘80s hits and a few Talking heads covers that had the early audience mostly bouncing and swaying the whole time. The hall became a mass sing-along when they played the signature “Genius of Love,” and again when they covered “Psycho Killer.”

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Billy Thieme is a Denver-based writer, an old-school punk and a huge follower of Denver’s vibrant local music scene. Follow Billy’s explorations at DenverThread.com, and his giglist at Gigbot.

Christine Cool is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.

  • John

    Couldn’t agree with your review more, Billy.  ”Cabaret” was the exact term that came into my mind last night…..Butler’s got the act down, but it did feel a bit like an act to me last night.  Still glad I went….

  • Surley2300

    your review of the furs sucks. this band has so many good songs. Have you ever actually listened to one of thier albums. . .  i am sick of hearing about pretty in pink and im sure they are too

  • Anonymous

    I enjoyed the show and both of the bands.  Tom Tom Club was energetic and fun.  Psyc Furs were solid throughout and played some great songs.  I do wish I could have heard some songs from “Book of Days”. I do miss seeing and hearing John Ashton on stage.  He provided a muscular, dynamic guitar base that is sadly missing from the present day band.  The new guitarist is great and talented.  But he is playing someone elses signature riffs and not as powerfully.  John was a great counter weight to the Butler bros.