Gig review: The Psychedelic Furs at O2 Academy Leeds

Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs. Picture: Maggie Butler
Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs. Picture: Maggie Butler
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Music writer Dave Thompson once said that London’s The Psychedelic Furs had “more impact on future musicians than they ever did in the marketplace”.

It is a valid assessment; the group, led by vocalist Richard Butler and younger brother/bassist Tim never truly cracked the charts on either side of the Atlantic, yet their influence upon artists like Counting Crows and The Stone Roses is undeniable. A quarter of a century on from their last record, the seminal post-punk outfit are unashamedly encroached in the niche of heritage act; this current jaunt, dropping by Leeds’s O2 Academy, bears the sobriquet of The Singles Tour, to hammer home its hits-only manifesto.

Wiry and effeminate at sixty-one, in long-coat and flowing shirt, the elder Butler remains a rangy presence at the front of the Furs, aging snakehips still in supple form. His breathy rasp and bark – the missing link between John Lydon and Ian Brown – remains remarkably well-preserved, wrapping itself around Mr Jones with a cocksure snarl and infusing All That Money Wants with a laconic swagger.

Flanked by his stoic, velvet-clad sibling, he hauls the six-piece through a ninety-minute romp short on unfamiliarity, dispatching signature song Pretty in Pink within the opening salvo and mapping a vaguely chronological order through the group’s seven albums. It lends a clarity of evolution to proceedings; the high-strung goth of Love My Way is followed by Run and Run’s surging power-pop, and that by bittersweet alt-rock cut Until She Comes, charting their musical journey from spiky guitars to chart-friendly synths and back again.

Butler also seems at further ease with material pulled from their most successful album Minutes to Midnight, with which he has a famously apathetic relationship. He relishes the giddy new wave soul of Heartbreak Beat, and when saxophonist Mars Williams blares out across lovelorn power ballad Angels Don’t Cry, he punches the air in delight. He makes little conversation beyond simplistic pleasantries; for an encore of the smoky Sister Europe and the spacey India from their self-titled debut, he lets his performance do the talking, writhing around the stage as the latter roars to a bludgeoning climax.

Nostalgia has rarely tasted so well-earned indeed.

Nick Hodgson is to release his first solo album in January.

Music interview – Nick Hodgson: ‘I am essentially a musician – whether it’s playing Elland Road or playing some pub, I just love it’