August 31, 2015 The Psychedelic Furs & The Church Make History NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY 8-19-15
Perhaps two of the most beloved bands to come out of the New Wave era during the 1980s were The Psychedelic Furs and The Church. Both born from of the Post-Punk movement that sprawled across continents, The Psychedelic Furs roots were in London, England, while The Church’s were in Sydney, Australia. Each unique in their own right, the band’s careers have traveled extraordinary roads over the past three plus decades, and now in 2015, for the first time ever, their paths intersect for a co-headlining tour. Once slated to tour side by side back in 1988, twenty-seven years later the billing finally comes to fruition in the Summer of 2015 with a total of twenty shows another across the USA. While The Psychedelic Furs have spent ample time touring The States over the past six years, The Church had not appeared on American soil since 2011 prior to their tour this past Winter in support for 2014 album Further/Deeper. With individual fanfare that could easily sell out venues on their own, the tour has been nothing less than a hit as it makes it way across the country before wrapping up on September 9th in San Diego, California. Performing at Irving Plaza in New York City on August 18th, a second area show took place on Wednesday the 19th at the quaint NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Long Island where a generous size crowd came together for a night of Alternative Rock bliss.
Gracing the stage first was The Church, just after 8 PM. Initially formed back in 1980, The Church continue their thirty-fifth anniversary celebration with original Vocalist/Bassist Steve Kilbey and Guitarist Peter Koppes, long-time drummer Tim Powles, along with newest guitarist Ian Haug, formerly of Powderfinger. Always known for their introspective Rock sound, filled with melodic guitar work and emotional intense vocals, The Church’s discography runs deep. Having been sometime since the band has performed on Long Island, many fans in the audience jogged their memories back to 2010 when the band had played at YMCA Boulton Center For The Performing Arts over in Bay Shore. Patiently waiting their return, the time had come and everyone was on the edge of their seat as each band member walked out.
Kicking off with fan-favorite “Reptile,” an unforeseen sound issue abruptly halted the song. Being the professionals they are, the false start did not frazzle Kilbey and company as they smoothly picked right back up after the kinks were worked out. Apologizing to the audience for the technical difficulties, the audience was not at all phased, and they were elated to see The Church performing. Going into a mix of old and new tracks, 2014’s “Toy Head” keep the mood atmospheric and dark as songs like “Metropolis” and “The Disillusionist” saw Kilbey close his eyes and deliver the lyrics with the utmost passionate tone. Complemented by Koppes and Haug’s timely guitar playing, The Church’s sound was rich, persuading many to sing along.
Taking everyone back to 1982 with The Blurred Crusade “You Took,” they followed with their most popular song “Under the Milky Way.” Featuring the unforgettable jangling guitars and smooth vocals everyone loves, fans rose to their feet, danced in the aisles, having a blast. Receiving a roar of cheers, Kilbey thanked the audience and the band rounded out their set with another new track entitled “Miami.” A lengthy piece which closes out Further/Deeper, fans attentively listened and watched as The Church kept their promise to complete their full set despite the early hiccup. In fact, they did so with conviction as Powles remained behind his drum kit, hitting what ever was left to him as the stage crew broke it down in the final minutes of the song. No matter what came in their way, The Church delivered what fans came out to see and then some. While only having six more dates with The Psychedelic Furs, they will treat The Roxy in Los Angeles, California to a headlining show September 10th to close out this run.
Allowing the audience to get up, stretch their legs, grab a drink, and check out the merchandise each band had on display, as scheduled, The Psychedelic Furs came out just after 9:30 PM. Established back in 1977, The Psychedelic Furs’ artistic, diverse sound helped make them one of the most popular bands in the UK as they charted eleven Top 100 singles between 1981 and 1990. Also attaining success in the USA, the band’s popularity seems stronger than ever in recent years despite not having released a studio record since 1991’s World Outside. Led by the unmistakable voice of Richard Butler, his brother and co-founder, Tim on bass, Richard Good on guitar, Mars Williams on saxophone, Paul Garisto on drums, and Amanda Kramer on keyboards, The Psychedelic Furs are a musical force that needs to be see live. Welcomed back to NYCB Theatre at Westbury for the first time since 2011, the band would also be making their second visit to Long Island in less than three months.
Immediately provoking excitement, a lively Richard Butler came bouncing out as the rest of the band took their place for the opening of “Heartbeat.” Led by the toe-tapping drum beat of Garisto and Williams’ colorful sax, the song was a perfect way to get the mojo flowing. Following with guitar heavy 1980 track “Mr. Jones,” Richard continued to move around the platform as Tim got involved pointing his bass guitar at the audience and looking sleek behind his signature sunglasses. Wasting little time, they blasted into more favorites like “Heaven,” followed by a rare performance of 1991’s “There’s A World Outside.” Catching many fans by surprise, the new edition to the set was received extremely well and was directly followed by the trippy hit “Love My Way” where Richard’s voice shined as he continued to dance around and hopped off the stage amidst empty space between he and the crowd just to get closer to them.
Continuing to keep things interesting, The Psychedelic Furs went into newer song “Little Miss World,” “Until She Comes,” and “Susan’s Strange,” which many had not heard live in over three decades. A delightful offering for long-time followers, the band proved why coming out to see them a mere three months after their previous Long Island show at The Paramount was well worth it. Smoothly moving into their beloved “The Ghost in You,” a lucky lady grooved her way to the stage to join Richard in a dance, surely leaving her with a memory that will last a lifetime. Giving Williams a chance to take the spotlight once more on sax with “Heartbreak Beat,” many remained standing and singing along before “Only You and I” and unreleased track “Wrong Train.”
With a few more tricks up their sleeve, a shuffle of 1984’s “Highwire Days,” featuring Williams enchanting everyone on clarinet, following was 1982’s “Danger,” and mega hit “Pretty in Pink” which closed out the set with a bang as nearly everyone sang along. Exiting momentarily, an ovation prompted their return for an encore that included early career song “Sister Europe.” One of the first introductions most had to the band, it was a just way to begin the encore which wrapped up with the finale of “Sleep Comes Down” as Richard acted out the motion of a violin bow in the air as he sang the verse. A mellow tune for the most part, the ear-opening clarinet of Williams once again tied the music together nicely as the entire band finished a riveting performance. Taking a bow, Richard blew kisses to the fans, waved goodnight as the band played out on stage to a sea of applause.
The Psychedelic Furs never seem to have an off night, even with the amount they perform live. Their ability to keep their fanbase engaged with a varied song selection each time out make them one of the best acts to see live. With that said, be a part of history and get out there and see The Church and The Psychedelic Furs on tour together before it is too late.