The Psychedelic Furs at First Avenue

photo courtesy of imago music

Go ahead and feel old: These guys haven’t released a full set of new songs in almost a quarter of a century. But if you came of age in the 1980s, the Psychedelic Furs’ oscillation between spare grandeur and frustrated thrash, underscored by singer Richard Butler’s petulant growl, was the soundtrack to brainy first crushes and the epic moping that ensued after they came to naught.
I was recently making dinner in my kitchen while engaged in a debate with some individuals younger than myself (all right, they were all pretty much making fun of me) about the merits of the pop music of my youth. Yes, most of it doesn’t stand up (And bubble gum loses its flavor. Go figure.), but beneath much of the dated production of the time—frankly, those echoey drums and plinkety-plink synthesizers didn’t sound all that awesome even then—were some stubbornly enduring tunes.

Think “Pretty in Pink” (and, yes, the John Hughes movie named after it, which was actually a fractal product of the 1980s—you can slice off any sliver of it, any Molly Ringwald moment or Jon Cryer sigh, and spawn a perfect microcosm of the entire decade), but there were other great hits as well, such as “Heartbreak Beat,” and the sublime “Heaven.” And if you were around back then, the opening marimba notes and silky languor of “Love My Way” will simply transport.

Getting older is a mixed bag, but nostalgia in limited doses is one of its compensations. The Furs actually took a decade off, during which Butler formed the unfortunately named Love Spit Love, but by the dawn of this century they were back at it—and for this First Avenue show, they’ve got Aussies the Church in tow, no slouches themselves in delivering sweeping, evocative psychedelic pop. Both of these bands have long rocked with foggy grandeur, and here’s hoping they haven’t forgotten how.

The Psychedelic Furs
August 25, 2015
First Avenue

Quinton Skinner is a writer and editor based in the Twin Cities. A former senior editor of Minnesota Monthly, he held the same post at Twin Cities METRO and 
has written for major national and local publications. He is the co-founder of Logosphere Storysmiths and author of several novels, including his latest, Odd One Out.