Still prettiest in pink: Psychedelic Furs are a hit again in Tampa
Something unexpected happened right off the bat at Monday night's Psychedelic Furs concert in Tampa: Was that really Love My Way they played as the OPENING song?!?
I love bands that open with their biggest hit. It says "plenty more where that came from." And for the next 75 minutes, the Psychedelic Furs proved just that.
Here are some memorable moments from the Furs show on Sept. 28 at the Ritz Ybor:
I DON'T LIKE 'MONDAYS': The Furs had Happy Mondays as part of the bill, giving fans a chance to see a band from "Madchester" England that was all the rage in the late '80s. But Shaun Ryder and company put on an uneven show. Using a teleprompter for lyrics and with lead singer Ryder wearing a hoodie, sunglasses and keeping his other hand in his pocket half the time, it felt like karaoke. By the end of their hourlong set, they were only just getting warmed up.
SING-A-LONG WITH THE FURS: By contrast, the Furs were energized from the start. Lead singer Richard Butler looked fantastic in black tux pants and vest. And I'd about kill to steal the black jacket that brother/bassist Tim Butler was sporting. Richard took plenty of deep bows and was all smiles. And you have to love his patented circling move, making it appear like he's spinning around on a record turntable. Tim sang along to nearly every song, even though he had no microphone. (Lest you forget he co-wrote most of the tunes.) It was contagious. Soon the entire audience was singing too.
THE REAL HIT: It's easy for casual fans to dismiss the Furs for their best-known hit -- Love My Way -- but it's the up-tempo numbers that really grab you in concert. President Gas, already a power rocker with plenty of attitude, becomes a randy, show-topping anthem when performed live. ("It's sick the price of medicine. Stand up, we'll put you on your feet again. Open up your eyes, just to check that your asleep again. President gas is president gas again.") I only wished they'd saved it for as an encore.
MAKEOUT SONGS: I sorta expected a lotta PDA during Ghost In You, and the couples around me didn't disappoint. (Are you sure this wasn't an Air Supply concert?) I didn't expect to see Sister Europe assume love-ballad status. I think the couple in front me conceived a child by the third chorus.
PRETTIEST IN PINK: We all knew we'd get the song that inspired the 1986 John Hughes flick. But where in the set? And what version -- the original rocker or the sax-softened remake? Answers: Right in the middle of the set. And it was the sax-friendly version. But I feel horrible for ever implying that the added sax notes dulls the teeth of the tune. It was easily one of the best feel-good moments of the night. For just a moment, we were all 17 years old again and only worried about gas money.
STILL IN HEAVEN: It's hard to resist falling in love with the Furs all over again every time you hear Heaven. In concert, the song is a love letter being passed back and forth between the band and the audience, with fans reaching out, waving arms and mirroring every innuendo. Richard and Tim looked really surprised and grateful at their reception here. I get the feeling we'll see them back in Tampa before too much longer. That really would be heaven.
[Photos: Steve Spears; Getty Images]