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