This Waterfront gig was originally scheduled for the UEA LCR, the switch coming as something of a surprise, especially as there were still a handful of tickets on the door, because I bought mine the morning they went on sale having never seen the Furs before. Mind you, it felt pretty full and very hot and sweaty by the time they came onstage.
It sounds like another age but when I first started going to gigs other than the UEA etc. Norwich still had that heady, rich aroma of chocolate and beer wafting around the city … I feel quite nostalgic thinking about it. The brewery has gone and the chocolate factory is now Chapelfield Mall but in the early 1980s when I first stepped into the legendary Gala Ballroom the first thing I heard pumping through the PA was the DJ’s choice of The Psychedelic Furs’ India. I suddenly felt like I was in a film walking into this dark venue for the first time, amazing haircuts everywhere and the Gala having its own strong aroma of beer and hairspray and Crazy Colour hair dye. I have no idea who I went to see that time but I do clearly remember the Furs being played, that’s the impression they made just on vinyl. I never got to see them back in the day but yearned to hear India et al. performed live.
No camera for me this time, just a few crapcam phone snaps from a few rows back and a lot of fun hearing some classic songs.
Lene Lovich was someone else whose records I owned but never got to see so her support slot was an added bonus for me. She came onstage around 8pm with her band and was absolutely brilliant. Big eyes, big hair, and huge voice, she has lost none of her charisma, chatty, smiley, faintly bonkers but just sensationally good. I’d love to see a full set. Her band are excellent and the songs are even punkier live with heavy bass and drums, plus super guitar and keys but most of the time attention was on the captivating Lene. I really loved this set and so did everyone around me. There was even a shout from someone in the front row of: “I’d forgotten how good you are!” which was taken in the right spirit.
The changeover for the Furs seemed to be taking forever because it was so bloody hot in the Waterfront but was only the standard 30 or 40 minutes or so … that’s what comes of staying in the same spot so as not to lose the vantage point! As the band filed onstage, I really got a sense of what presence they have. Brothers Richard and Tim pulling poses and shapes and plenty of smiles too. Richard Butler is a legendary frontperson with an iconic, unique voice which doesn’t seem to have lost anything … and he even seems to share Bowie’s winning smile as well as some hard to explain John Lydon-esque characteristics! For the first few numbers (and the encore) they were also joined by original guitarist Roger Morris.
This being a “singles” tour the set spanned their entire career. Probably most famous for Pretty in Pink, which isn’t actually one of my favourites of theirs, it did sound magnificent live. I though especially enjoyed We Love You, Dumb Waiters, Mr. Jones, and the two songs they performed for the encoure, Sister Europe and the sensational India itself. It was a pleasure to see a band of such stature play, and perform with such passion and sheer joy.
It struck me about midway through the gig that other than “Thanks” and “Ta” there was barely anything spoken between songs, but oddly it did not feel that way. They are so hugely charismatic that they were communicating and engaging in other ways … and looking like they were having a fantastic time doing so. It did feel surprisingly intimate and the Furs belong to an elite music club of having vast amounts of presence … theatrical gestures, abundant smiles, engagement with the crowd … and their huge sound. The whole band tremendous and clearly loving the gig as much as the audience.
An excellent gig, the Furs are slick and professional but also warm and fun. Playing and performing flawlessly, with an awesome back catalogue, they are true legends in my book. The revelation for me however was just how superb Lene Lovich still is and what a great back catalogue she has too, she left me wanting more. I do hope she will play a Norwich gig again, I know she has some connections with the city so fingers crossed. The night as a whole was a great celebration of bass-heavy post-punk done quite brilliantly.
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