Rather than being lost in music at gigs these days, I often find myself asking ‘How can they afford to be playing?’ and this was certainly the case with PF support act The Wendy James Band. Rather than having some young computer whizz-kid intern emulating the sounds of a full combo, the former Transvision Vamper had five big lads, all, one assumes, on per diems, and including drum semi-legend Jim Sclavunos, backing her. She has a new, presumably crowd-funded, album out soon, and the set touched on that, with enough TV hits to keep some interest going. They ended with the best known one. The one that, perhaps appositely for this audience, ends ‘I don’t care’.
It’s 40 years since The PF’s debut single We Love You, though they don’t play it tonight and rarely do. Tonight’s a run through their various phases, from the debut album’s Sister Europe and India to Midnight To Midnight’s Heartbreak Beat via Talk Talk Talk’s Dumb Waiters, Mr Jones, Into You Like A Train and Pretty In Pink, Forever Now’s Love My Way and President Gas and Mirror Moves’ The Ghost in You and Heaven. I say run-through, but it’s more a joyful sashay, with the formerly deadpan Richard Butler now having a larf and interacting beautifully with saxophonist extraordinaire Mars Williams, bassist brother Tim and keyboard ace Amanda Kramer. Butler is now Bill Nighy doing Bowie doing Scott Walker doing Johnny Rotten doing Frank Spencer, and the pipes and hair, at 63 years old, are still grand.
The Furs’ sax element always raised them above the majority of their contemporaries, giving them a layer of Roxy texture to go with the Velvets thing, and despite being dismissed by the weekly inkies (I seem to recall only Zig Zag magazine championing them) the Dome is nigh on full and laps it all up.
Even the most fervent Furs fan would fail a lie detector test if they claimed that the late 80s material, the Chris Kimsey produced sheen and baggy leather trousered vapidity, was all up to snuff, and yet tonight, Heartbreak Beat is spot on, the song that should’ve compounded the success of Pretty In Pink but didn’t.
They end, as they often do on these sporadic tours, with an extended version of India, with Williams honking like the very existence of the subcontinent depended on him.
More women than is usual at such gigs, and more young-ish folks, and therefore less reminiscent of a tin of baked beans when viewed from above.
It made me think..
That you can have a whole lot of fun with what was once really rather pretentious without losing the beauty and power.