Psychedelic Furs at City Winery 01/06/15
Tuesday, January 6
If the first two weeks of live shows in Chicago this January are indicative of what’s to come in 2015, I’d say Chicagoans are in for a special year. Those in-the-know may have been lucky enough to see Yo-Yo Ma perform with the Chicago Civic Orchestra at Lane Tech High School January 11th, or attend the David Bowie Birthday Bash a few days later at the Metro. The David Bowie cover band, Sons of the Silent Age, headlined and featured an all-star line-up, to include Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks & Ministry) and Matt Walker (Filter, Smashing Pumpkins, Morrissey). Also that evening was a thoroughly impressive set of Lou Reed tunes performed by Robbie Fulks and friends, with special guest and talented actor Michael Shannon—who was fun to watch and is a more-than-suitable Lou Reed.
A few days preceding these fantastic shows, were three nights of performances at City Winery by 80’s icons, the Psychedelic Furs. If you wondered where all the hip 40 and 50 year-old Chicagoans were that week (as I’m sure you were), they were piled into this concert hall/eatery, sharing small plates and sipping local wine as Richard Butler and band mates performed songs for them.
Not every band can tour 20 years after their peak and still have the ability to impress a crowd but the Furs still have it. They filled the venue each night, performing a 16-song, hit-filled set to 350 happy and well-fed fans. Butler emerged from behind a curtain wearing a suit vest, saddle shoes, black-rimmed glasses, and a rather large and pleasing smile. They opened with “Into You Like a Train.” Despite being in his late 50’s now, Butler has the same gritty vocal quality and continues to position himself at the edge of the stage, connecting with the crowd by way of his trademark move: the sultry “Love My Way” leg-crossed crouch.
Other than Butler’s later project, Love Spit Love, the Furs have not recorded any new music of late but continue to tour with many band originals/early members including Chicago saxophonist, Mars Williams. Those tenor sax parts are genre and time defining. Williams energetically weaved his way around his band mates across the stage and back dazzling the crowd with unforgettable melodies, taking us all back in time—a happy time.
Tim Butler, original bass player and Richard Butler’s brother, played to the left of his brother and charmingly mouthed most of the lyrics. A long time fan can appreciate when a band still performs with all the affection and enthusiasm with which they did back in the day.
They played 15 more tunes, including favorites: “Ghost in You,” “Heaven,” “Heartbreak Beat,” and the song that inspired the movie, “Pretty in Pink.” The crowd eventually abandoned their seats, pushing them aside as they surrounded the stage to pay homage to an 80’s favorite. The Furs came back for an encore performing an early piece, “India,” from their 1980 self-titled debut studio album. All were happy.
The Furs still tour fairly regularly. So if you missed these three show, chances are you can catch the next three.
Here’s to a 2015 filled with even more intriguing performances! I’m looking forward to hearing the summer festival line-ups and finally seeing both the Gang of Four at Park West and Ministry at the House of Blues.