From the “India!” Department:
The power of John Hughes’ de-coolifying ray was something to be reckoned with. He trained it on a Scottish, Velvets-influenced rock group, founded in 77. And he trained it on an English, Velvets-influenced rock group, founded in 77. Ok, perhaps in the case of Simple Minds, the lads had already strayed from the rough guitar-based early songs like “Chelsea Girl” and towards this while New Romantic thing by the time of “New Gold Dream 81-82-83-84”, a more commercial, but still nicely turned out record. With a Herbie Hancock guest appearance, no less (remember, this is Rockit-era Hancock). None of this was crime enough for Simple Minds to earn the fate of forever henceforth being “that band from The Breakfast Club”.
In the case of the Psychedelic Furs, the punishment is even more out of line with the crime. Especially when you think of that first album. If I wanted to give someone an idea of what post-punk sounds like, I might play “India” for them–a perfect example of the genre and my first and still favorite Furs tune. Just listening to Richard Butler’s rasp gives you the vicarious thrill of smoking a pack of Marlboros. What are the dangers of second-hand voice?
Whatever cool that had been left was threatened severely by the Venue where we caught the Furs the other night: B.B. King’s. The billing had mentioned dance floor/standing room with seating at the sides. But when we got there, it was all seating, with SR at the bar. This format works, it really does, for Jazz, and for Standup Comedy. But for rock? There’s a definite feeling of “Jamie Farr as Willie Loman” at the airport dinner theatre. But the seats were good, the site lines were good, and we were right behind the console, so we were constantly checking the set list to see what was coming up.
Seated with us were some very nice, friendly, chatty masters of the universe. They work at the Wall Street company that just posted the largest profits in Street history. Given that they were probably both pre-occupied with that ultimate bonus-time dilemma–yellow or red?–it was a fun, racous table.
And the set was fun, but honestly, much more like a bunch of friends getting together for a jam than a real gig. Two numbers had false starts–including “Love my Way”! The band was loose and ragged. The couple of tunes they played off Mirror Moves suffered the most. It didn’t help that the band was constantly running to the side of the stage to yell nasty things at the stage mixer. John Aston’s guitar sound was–not nice. And not nice at 100 Watts is not nice. The keyboard player alternated between two facial expressions: “oh my God, my entire rig is broken,” and, “ah good, there it is… oh no it’s not!”
But all of this hardly mattered, it was such fun. Butler spins like a top, strikes humorous attitudes, and has a whole system of semaphore that he uses to illustrate the lyrics. There’s the koo-koo-head-spinning-finger for anything that involves thought, the mind, etc. There’s the jerk-off-wrist, which accompanies things that are dull, a waste of time. His voice is still there, and he’s still got it in spades.
John Hughes be damned.