Published Jul 08, 2019Having not released an album of new material since 1991's World Outside, the Psychedelic Furs' latest live tour is tailor-made for the festival season, where hardcore fans and the nostalgic sect can congregate side by side to hear the band's arsenal of modern rock hits.
Returning to Ottawa for the first time since their 1987 tour with This Mission, the London, England band was sandwiched in-between performances by James and the Killers during an astoundingly well-attended night four of the city's ten-day RBC Bluesfest. Entering the festival's main stage dressed like true rock stars, founding members Richard Butler on vocals and bassist Tim Butler were joined onstage by long-time Psychedelic Furs collaborators Mars Williams on saxophone and drummer Paul Garisto, alongside former Information Society keyboardist Amanda Kramer and the Pleased guitarist Rich Good.
Playing only the third date of their current North American tour, Richard Butler's vocals sounded strained and flimsy, struggling through set-opener "Heaven," from their 1984 album Mirror Moves. Moving on to the much-beloved "The Ghost in You" and "Heartbeat," Richard began to loosen up, as the 63-year-old began roaming the voluminous stage to hang off Rich and Tim while interacting with the packed crowd. After playing one of the only two non-singles of the night, "President Gas" — which was highlighted by some transcendent sax skronks from Mars — the band launched into a crowd-pleasing four-song stretch that included the early-MTV fave "Sleep Comes Down" alongside hits "Love My Way," "Heartbreak Beat" and "Pretty in Pink."
Despite the puzzling decision to end the set off with the atmospheric "India" — the lead-off track from their 1980 self-titled debut — the Psychedelic Furs nonetheless left the crowd with a tightly packed and buoyant hour-long set that managed to achieve its singular goal: deliver a shining decade of hits. All this and nothing more.