It’s small wonder that Richard Butler wears a smile tonight.
His band The Psychedelic Furs recently signed a new record deal and the group’s first album in 30 years is due to be released in the spring. Autumn tour dates of the UK and continental Europe follow a summer trek around the States.
Currently a seven-piece led by Richard and his younger brother Tim, on bass, the band fill a small stage at this University of Leeds venue. Richard looks dapper too, in a dark three-piece suit and blue polka-dot shirt; like his brother, and saxophonist Mars Williams and keyboard player Amanda Kramer, his eyes are shielded behind sunglasses that add a certain rock star chic.
The 75-minute set is well honed, focusing on highlights from their 40-year recording career and only swerving material from their 1989 album Book of Days.
Tim Butler has often professed his fondness for The Psychedelic Furs’ post-punk phase, and seven songs from their early 80s classics Talk Talk Talk and Forever Now are here, sounding taut and lean. Dumb Waiters is a signal of their intent, opening the set with brio that they maintain with Mr Jones and Love My Way, with its delicate marimba-led melody.
The mood softens with The Ghost In You, Like A Stranger and Sister Europe, with its Eastern-sounding sax line, but things ramp up a gear with a euphoric Heaven and All That Money Wants. The former is particularly well greeted by a middle-aged audience happy to be reminded of their youth.
Into You Like A Train and new song The Boy That Invented Rock & Roll are robust and full of energy. So too is Pretty In Pink, their commercial highpoint and standout tune. The sardonic tones of President Gas seem to have lost none of their bite over the years, and Sleep Comes Down, also from Forever Now, is as woozily pretty as ever.
As they round off with Heartbreak Beat and India Richard Butler can afford himself another smile, for a job impressively done. Next year promises much.