I had my suspicions, but after seeing The Furs this time, I am convinced that they choose to exist as a group who captures the mystique of sunglasses-wearing Velvets and Mysterians, the mannerisms of an effeminate yet androgynous Bowie, and the heart-wrenching yet teeth-clenching growls of love-sick bobcats.
First we walked into the show,(which was flooded with middle aged men and women), handed our tickets over and found a nice seat right in the center of the theater. The first band sucked pretty hard. They sounded like Coldplay and Wilco had a slow child who didn't get enough attention. They were talented kids, but boring boring boring. A real shitty situation for them as well was the fact that not only were they not mentioned on any of the Furs show dates, but the theater didn't even have them up on their page. To make matters worse, their crappy reverbed-to-highhell vocals made it nearly impossible to hear anything they tried to relate between songs, so you could forget about catching their band name then. The way I look at it in this case, it was probably for the best.
The Furs came out eventually and saved the evening. The first thing I noticed that varied differently from the last time that I got to see them was the obvious presence of a saxophone player. Alleluia! Not to say that I am a huge saxophone fan, I'm actually far from it. In fact the only saxophones in music I can stand are anything James White has done, and maybe, maybe the songs featuring Andrew Brennan on The Cure's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. Other than that, when hearing a sax wail I can't help but to imagine our nerdball 42nd president trying to impress his nation on the Arsenal Hall show. Either that or some adult pop, yacht rock Kenny G garbage. I just plain hate saxophones. Regardless, Furs sax player Mars Williams really held it down. His execution was right on, and for a tiny guy, his energy was off the charts. Plus, the only thing more brutally intolerable than saxophone is synthesized saxophone and that's what I got last time I saw The Furs in 2005. Get it?
I quickly noticed that one of two things was going on. a) John Ashton had lost about a hundred pounds and lost the boots and cowboy hat as well, or b) There was some new young buck on guitar. After struggling to see (despite my somewhat up-to-date eyeglass prescription) I came to a sad conclusion that there was no way in hell that this kid was 52 year old Ashton. Bummer. Kid had some serious licks though and pulled it off quite well, so bravo to him.
There were all kinds of rumors as to who the drummer was going to be this tour, but once I got a look at Paul Garisto's glasses it was pretty clear that he was the man behind the kit. Probably a good move for him since he hasn't done anything noteworthy since 1987's Midnight To Midnight with The Furs. He was solid nonetheless and seemed to keep his energy and "up" mood for the duration of the performance.
Amanda Kramer was back again on the keys and also did a great job considering the pressure she must feel to have to nail some of those notes that are irreparable when missed. She's great, and has come a long way since her stint with total shit band Information Society. Some of her highlights include touring with Siouxie Sioux and Julee Cruise (who wrote "falling" for Twin Peaks as well as other D. Lynch productions), and of course, The Furs!
Tim Butler has to be one of the coolest bass players out there. He never takes his sunnys off, never says a word (and is not privileged with a microphone ever), and he muscles around the stage from one end to another playing his bass like he is on some epic new wave mission. He generally wears a dark blazer and dress pants, and looks like some deranged, musical Willem Defoe. A total ripper for sure.
His brother and lead singer Richard Butler left little to be desired. His bouncy, spinning energy put just about the entire theater in a great mood. His voice was nearly perfect, and it wasn't until he had monitor troubles when singing "Ghost in You" that I noticed any flaws whatsoever. "Well that must've sounded like a train wreck" he quipped at the song's end. Everyone laughed even though most of us were thinking it sounded more like a dying dog. His recovery was amazing, and he quickly bounced back without the hearing assistance and the crowd loved every second of it. In fact, they loved it enough to trigger two girls to illegitimately jump on stage and dance with him during Pretty in Pink at their encore. The show was great and I guess if I had to say thanks to the band I'd thank them for a few things. 1) Thanks for playing so many Talk Talk Talk songs because it's a great record full of great songs that should be in every music lover's collection 2) Thanks for having a saxophone player this time because although I want to kill anyone who plays one, you are one of the few bands who get the free pass for me, 3) Thanks for only playing one encore. All these silly bands who actually think it's still clever to come back out on stage two or three times need to get schooled. I appreciate your awareness of this epidemic, and 4) Thanks for making a career out of creating music that lusty teenagers and twenty somethings can most undoubtedly relate to. Now do me a favor and write a new album.
Like a Stranger
She is Mine
I Just Want to Sleep with You
So Run Down
Am of this
Ghost in You
It Goes On
Pretty In Pink
Love My Way