Saturday Night: Psychedelic Furs At Warehouse Live
The Psychedelic Furs are very much a throwback band, but not in the way you might be thinking. Thanks largely to John Hughes, the Butler brothers' UK crew will forever be remembered as one of the premier musical avatars of the suave, sunglassed '80s.
Pretty In Pink aside, the Furs have always been painted with the post-punk brush. There is some truth to that - other than simply chronological, that is - but it's only half the story.
Besides Richard Butler's warm baritone blanket of a voice, which was in fine form as the singer grinned and cantered about the Warehouse Live stage Saturday, the Furs' main musical calling card is a direct descendent of rock and roll progenitors like King Curtis and Louis Jordan. This art-minded crew of Londoners, in other words, is arguably the last pop group to use saxophone rather than guitars or keyboards to steer its songs.
Then again, if you had a formidable pair of lips like those of "Mighty" Mars Williams in your band, you'd be a fool not to use them as much as possible. Williams was not yet a Fur when the group recorded 1981's Talk Talk Talk - which comprised the entirety of the group's first of two sets - but the way the pint-size tenorman dominated the songs Saturday, it's hard to imagine anyone else doing them now.
First and foremost, of course, is the timeless riff to "Pretty In Pink," which Williams captured so perfectly that Aftermath started scanning the Ballroom (about two-thirds full) for James Spader. So did the other Furs in his wake, Richard Butler setting his vocals on medium smirk, or about half the level of predecessor and opener "Dumb Waiters."