Even at age 60, Richard Butler can really move. The spritely lead singer and his band, the Psychedelic Furs, performed at the packed Palladium Theatre in St. Pete on Oct. 20 as part of their 2016 tour.
The Psychedelic Furs were founded in London in the late seventies by the Butler brothers, Richard and Tim. The band established success in the U.S. with their album “Talk Talk Talk,” when it earned the number 89 spot on Billboard’s top 200 list. Their career reached an all-time high with the hit song “Pretty in Pink,” which inspired director John Hughes’ 1986 film of the same name. A line from their song “Run and Run” also inspired the name of the popular restaurant franchise Hamburger Mary’s. For years, the Furs produced album after album and hit after hit before finally taking a long and well-earned hiatus in 1992. The reformed and began touring again in 2000.
After opening act “My Jerusalem” took their final bows, the Psychedelic Furs rocketed right into their performance with the song “India,” a full-tilt, punk infused, head banging hit. Over the course of an hour and a half, the Palladium was alive with a cacophony of excited cheers, jazzy saxophone accompaniment, and synthesized keyboard sounds as the Furs performed such hits as “President Gas,” “The Ghost in You,” “Love My Way,” and more. They ended the nostalgia filled evening by bathing the crowd in warm, magenta light before launching into their most anticipated tune, “Pretty in Pink.”
The band’s performance that night was phenomenal. Their set was the perfect balance between loud, fast, and exciting and beautifully light and whimsical. Their sound is better than retro. The Furs were lively and entertaining as they performed most of their more popular, crowd pleasing hits. Richard Butler kept the energy level up by dancing this way and that and even jumping into one lucky fan’s selfie. After 30 years of touring, Butler still seems to enjoy it.
The lights entranced the audience members as they changed color and style in sync with each song, which added more overall magic and creativity to the show. Every song was bouncy and upbeat while at the same time mellow and smooth, in true eighties fashion. The only down side to the evening was the Palladium’s less than stellar sound system. It was difficult to tell at times exactly what Richard Butler was singing; most of his words were lost in the echoing reverb. But for die hard fans who knew the songs, the words were already there.
It was startling to see how many of the patrons were actually of the younger generation, considering the band was popular in the late seventies through the eighties. It’s both refreshing and satisfying to see teenagers and twenty-somethings taking an interest in and enjoying the music of decades’ past.
The Psychedelic Furs wrapped up their time in Florida with a show in Key West on Oct. 22 and another on the following day in Fort Lauderdale before heading to the west coast on the final leg of their tour. If any students with a taste for older tunes would like to know more about the band, they can visit their official website, www.thepsychedelicfurs.com, or pick up a cd packed with some of their greatest hits. Just one listen to the Furs and they’ll be “Into You Like a Train.”