Although their reputation has suffered over the years—largely a self-inflicted wound if you ask their original legions of fanatical fanboys like me—and they’ve been no more than an oldies act for decades now, you still cannot beat the first two Psychedelic Furs albums. Both are among the very, very best albums of the post punk era—I’d rate their debut in my top three of all time, it’s a masterpiece—and both urgently need to be rediscovered by a new generation (for their sake, not the band’s). The Furs were such an important, popular even heroic group of the early 80s, but you’d never really know that in 2016 unless you were around at the time. Seen from the vantage point of nearly 37 years since their 1980 debut, today they’re but one-hit wonders of the “New Wave” who will always be closely associated with a certain Molly Ringwald movie.
Once they were one of the coolest, most underground groups around—and don’t get me wrong, my pals and I would drive for hours to see them when I was a teen—today they’re the opening act for the Go-Gos or the B-52s when their wives want them out of the house. We all get old, but the Psychedelic Furs have, let’s face it, sucked pretty much since “Love My Way.” I still love ‘em, but I can’t credibly stick up for them after that.
But never mind any of this, here is an absolutely stellar live set from the Psychedelic Furs taped for Germany’s Rockpalast show in 1981. The band are in top form here and there were no signs at that point of a John Hughes teen flick or those goofy wannabe Billy Idol haircuts in their near future. In terms of live Psychedelic Furs footage, this is undoubtedly the best there is, so savor it.
At points during this show, the band achieves the power of a Mack truck barreling through a brick wall at a high speed. They were at this point still a sextet with the classic line-up of Richard Butler (vocals), Tim Butler (bass guitar), Duncan Kilburn (saxophone), Vince Ely (drums) Roger Morris (guitars) and the amazing John Ashton (guitars).
There’s a killer “India” at about the 45-minute mark. Great versions of “Fall” and “We Love You” right after that.