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The Psychedelic Furs epitomised the 80s post-punk culture and spirit and influenced a multitude of musical genres? It was 30 odd years ago when the Psychedelic Furs first burst onto the scene, along with the likes of Wire, The Fall and The Birthday Party. Their sound was like a more polished version of Mark E Smith, in the form of Rich Butler, which embraced the tunefull playfulness of Wire.

There was a palpable sense of excitement as I arrived at the Fleece, as this was the Furs first show in Bristol for more than a decade. The place was buzzing; even the venue’s owner was feeling the buzz as they are one of his all time favourite bands of all time. It was fair to say I was feeling like a kid locked in a sweet shop, I had to keep on pinching myself because they were one of the acts that I thought I would never get to see live! So, the fact that I was stood right in-front of the stage that they were about to play filled me with energy.

First up, though, was Gaz Brookfield – who brought a bit heart on sleeve style honesty to proceedings, with songs about growing up in the West Country, bullying and Politics. He could be Bristol’s answer to Frank Turner, with a shade of Billy Bragg thrown in to boot. I know those are obvious comparisons, but every time I have seen Gaz perform (I have seen him a number of times) I can’t help but hear those names circulate in my head. There is something I find really endearing about him.

Releasing a staggering seven albums in 10 years, there was a certain air of expectancy and the band did not disappoint, in fact they seemed to be in a very jubilant mood as they cracked into ‘Into You Like A Train’, setting the tone for the evening with a cacophony of swirling saxophone and synths, melded together with thick treacle like bass and crispy guitars. Rich Butler was beaming from ear to ear right from the off, as he could see the excitement in people’s eyes as everyone sang along. His resplendence, combined with his pinstripe suit, gave him the air of a Roger Daltry.

With both Rich and his brother, bass player Tim Butler, taking turns to stalk the edge of the stage, they rattled through ‘Mr Jones’ and ‘Heartbeat’, before blitzing into ‘Pretty in Pink’, the band’s biggest hit single and one of their ultimate calling cards. To see their biggest song rolled out in the first 20 minutes of their set shows that they have an immense amount of self-belief.

Butler’s sneering vocals sounded as sinister as ever, as though he was lovingly mocking both John Lydon and David Bowie, both in his physical presence and in his vocal delivery. Yet, all the way through the set I kept on hearing LCD Sound System and The Rapture, who more than blatantly ripped off the Psychedelic Furs. Saxophonist Mars Williams was happily hoping about the stage, leaping from riff to riff, helping the band keep a near constant driving pace.

‘Heaven’ signified a change in both dynamics and mood, bringing a more sophomoric feel to proceedings, with which the guitars swoowned along to Rich Butler’s almost nu-romantic style vocals. In all honesty this pretty much felt like the best post punk disco around, it just all clicked with a near perfect energy, enough to make anyone feel youthful. Magical.

‘Like A Stranger’ felt very reminiscent to the early works of Julian Cope and Teardrop Explodes, with the hooky call of the fanfare. Before drawing the main set to a close with ‘India’, which sounded as gnarly as ever with its big thumping bass, they returned to blast through ‘All of the Law’ and ‘Forever Now’, leaving the place breathless, sweaty and crying out for more. They could have played for hours on end with the whole slew of songs like ‘Sister Europe’, ‘Flowers’ and ‘House’, but still, it felt very magical having the Furs play right in front of me – bloomin’ marvellous.

Words: Jeffrey Johns