Brit Rockers Psychedelic Furs and James Team Up For a Dynamic Double Bill at the Agora

Concert Review

click to enlarge Brit Rockers Psychedelic Furs and James Team Up For a Dynamic Double Bill at the Agora
Katina Alexandria Scalia
Strange to think that the Psychedelic Furs and James, two veteran British bands who’ve been around for decades, might be in their prime. But that’s the impression the groups left last night after performing at the Agora on their co-headlining tour.

You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here.

The Furs capped off the evening with a 75-minute set that started strong with the searing “Love My Way.” Wearing sunglasses and a black trench coat that he’d quickly ditch, singer Richard Butler looked as dark and brooding ever. His raspy voice sounded sharp, and he clapped and snapped while singing the tune.

Butler manically paced the stage during “Highwire Days” and held his arms up dramatically while singing the ballad “Heaven.” Wailing saxophone brought an edge to tunes such as “Heartbreak Beat” and “President Gas,” and the trumpet player from James would join the fray for a particularly jazzy rendition of “Sleep Comes Down.”

Blaring sax punctuated the set-closing “Pretty in Pink,” and the band returned to deliver a particularly menacing rendition of “India” for the encore.

James singer Tim Booth takes great pride in the fact that the band alters its set list from night. Last night, he even apologized if opening tracks such as the shimmering “Dream Thrum” and moody “Born of Frustration” came off as “really soft.” “We thought it was Sunday,” said the band’s guitarist. “We must’ve forgot it’s a Friday night.”

But even the “soft” songs in the set possessed an intensity to them thanks to the chrome-domed Booth, who’d often tip-toe to the front of the stage to sing to the fans in the pit or gyrate under a flickering strobe during instrumental sections. At one point, he even made his way to the back of the pit to sing and dance with fans.

The group’s touring in support of last year’s terrific Living in Extraordinary Times, and the band played several tunes from it. “This one didn’t make the album. If you like it, that tells you how good the album is,” Booth said as he introduced the ballad “Busted,” a song he said was about a break-up.

The set’s centerpiece was “Heads,” a Living in Extraordinary Times song that Booth said was about the current “state of the disunion.” The dissonant tune featured chirping cello and rattling percussion, and Booth fervently clapped while he sang the track. Flickering red lights amplified the tune’s message about how greed and corruption are ruining the country.

The set ended with a soaring rendition of “Laid,” the group’s biggest U.S. hit.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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