Tuesday, September 6, 2011

3 Decades Disappearing in One Night

In lieu of the usual NW4NW post this week, I instead want to share with you my rather enjoyable Saturday night when it felt like 1983 all over again.  Was at Lancaster's infamous Chameleon again for the second time in about a month, this time to see a couple of bands who belong on any sensible roll call of New Wave royalty.  The Psychedelic Furs came to town this weekend, and brought with them opening act The Tom Tom Club.

Thankfully, we did not have any of the issues that marred the enjoyment of the They Might Be Giants show a few weeks ago: not nearly so long a wait to get in, nowhere near as oppressively hot (although The Chameleon still lived up to its "sweatbox" reputation), and no drunken idiots lunging at the stage.  In fact, the first thing we noticed was that a barrier had been set up about two feet in front of the stage, creating a sort of moat between the crowd and the bands.  That Guy's legacy, perhaps?

The crowd also was surprisingly not as large as I expected it might be for two big-name bands.  When Tom Tom Club took the stage, the club was about half-full; by the time The Furs began their set, the place had filled in quite a bit.  Still, I'd be surprised if there were more than 300 people there. It seemed like the show was not well advertised around here - I only heard about it a week before it happened, and many I've talked to since then never heard about it.  Strange.  Made for a nice evening, though: it's refreshing to be able to see a band without being shoved against the stage (or barrier) like a sardine, and since the place wasn't crammed full, the air conditioning could actually occasionally be felt (such as it is - anyone who's ever been in the Chameleon will attest to the terrible ventilation there.) 

Seeing The Tom Tom Club was neat, especially considering nowadays they are about as close as we'll ever get to seeing Talking Heads again.  Tina Weymouth (bass) and Chris Frantz (drums), who founded the band in 1981, led the group through a great opening set that had the crowd dancing and really got the energy going.  Classics like "Man With the 4-Way Hips" and "Wordy Rappinghood" were met with energetic applause and sing-along vocals from the crowd; a pair of songs from their parent band's catalog ("Take Me To The River" and Heads' original "Psycho Killer") were happy surprises. The best reaction, though, was reserved for The Tom Tom Club's biggest splash, "Genius Of Love."  Check out this clip of the performance, taken by YouTube user vwall10411 (and keep your eye out for the band's DJ in the back, wearing the hat that says "BAD."  We were trying to figure out if that was actually David Arquette!)

The Psychedelic Furs are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their incredible Talk Talk Talk LP, but their set didn't focus solely on that album's material.  (For an excellent take on the album and the band, check out this post by Theresa Kereakes at her Punk Turns 30 blog.) It was great to hear "Pretty In Pink" and "All Of This And Nothing," though I would have loved a live version of "Into You Like A Train."  Over the course of roughly an hour, The Furs did a fantastic job of touching on the various eras of their career, and live they sounded like they haven't aged a day or missed a beat.  Richard Butler looked to be having a great time, doing his best Bowie-as-Thin-White-Duke pose and literally bouncing around joyously thanking the crowd after each song.  Brother Tim Butler stalked about the stage in wrap-around shades and bass in hand, playing to the crowd at every turn, and saxophonist Mars Williams simply amazed.  If you had never heard The Psychedelic Furs before, you would have walked away impressed; those of us who have been fans for far too many years to count were overjoyed.  Again thanks to vwall10411, here is a clip of The Furs performing one of their later hits, "The Ghost In You:"

The only complaint any of us had was that the night was over too soon.  The Furs could've played until dawn and not a soul would have left the club - it was a good crowd who loved both bands, sang along and relived happy memories.  For a time, inside that club, it could easily have been 30 years ago.  That, my friends, is the sign of a great show!

The Psychedelic Furs/Tom Tom Club tour runs through October.  Here is a link to the remaining dates - if they are coming within earshot of you, go. You will have a blast.  Pics from Saturday night's show will be up on the Facebook Page shortly.

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