Monday, April 7, 2014

Until She Comes

All of her lovers
all talk of her notes
and the flowers that they never sent
And wasn't she easy
and wasn't she pretty in pink?

You may not be able to go home again, but you sure can go revisit the years you spent dancing in clubs to British post-punk.

Somehow- I'll never understand how - the Psychedelic Furs were playing Hopewell's Beacon Theater, the historic and recently renovated grand dame of a theater in what seemed otherwise like a ghost town.

Across from the theater, a pick-up truck had the Furs blasting as a half dozen people tailgated, pre-gaming for the show.

We took seats in the row in front of the sound booth, or roughly equivalent to my usual place at any show, except seated.

Quite sure I'd see other Richmonders at the show, we weren't there ten minutes when I spotted a favorite gallery owner with a handsome designer.

When they came over to chat, he said they'd been playing the "who will we know at this show?" game on the drive down and her first guess had been me.

We also saw WRIR's vounteer coordinator and her husband, who said that his brother had recently seen the Furs and been very impressed with the show. They were appalled at the absence of places in Hopewell to get a drink before the show, a fact which we'd taken into account.

All I knew was that I was finally getting to see and hear Richard Butler's distinctive voice playing songs that I've been listening to and loving for 30 years.

Moments after the Vacant Stairs took the stage, the sound guy two feet from us, yelled out, "Welcome the opening band!" That's about the most impersonal introduction I've ever heard a band get.

Like the Furs, the Stairs were a bunch of middle-aged men, only their songs weren't cleverly written or oozing with British art school poetry. And they didn't have a sax player.

Coming out of the bathroom during the break between bands, I was greeted by a long-time Millie's employee who ended up sitting right in front of us with his posse.

I feel perfectly safe in saying that the entire audience (with the exception of the idiot who brought the five-year old) had at some point in their lives danced, made out or swooned over a Psychedelic Furs song. Or ten.

From the moment they took the stage, looking damn fine considering everyone but the guitarist is mid-50s, I know I was lost in my youth.

But it was singer Richard Butler I immediately fell hard for. Midway through the first song, I turned to my date and told him how adorable I found Richard.

A man in my shoes runs a light
And all the papers lied tonight
but falling over you 
is the news of the day

My problem was that I'd never seen a Psychedelic Furs video, so I was there with no knowledge of what an expressive singer, fluid dancer, and just all around loose-limbed human being he was.

It didn't hurt that he was middle-aged handsome, constantly smiling, wearing dark framed hipster glasses and with his black shirt sleeves pushed up 80s-style (hands sometimes thrust deep in pockets for "the look") and had the ability to drop to a full-on floor curtsy, sing poignant love songs and spring back up without a hitch.

But mostly it's that distinctive voice and accent that are so deeply embedded in my musical memory and that served as a soundtrack to a long-ago relationship that had me swooning from the start.

My date didn't seem to mind, no doubt because he was lost in his own memories of the music and how enthusiastically well executed it was considering all the years gone by.

With each song played, I felt my smile grow wider and my euphoria higher hearing all these songs I've loved so long played live.

Love my way, it's a new road
I follow where my mind goes
So swallow all your tears my love
and put on your new face
You can never win or lose
If you don't run the race

The band was incredibly tight, no surprise given how long they've been playing together but it's the inevitability and reality of love that weaves its way through the lyrics to every song that seal teh deal.

Or maybe it's watching Richard sing his heart out while pantomiming hand gestures to words like sun and heart and dream to coax every bit of meaning from the lyrics while a roomful of Gen X types dance along.

Anyone who knows me well knows I'd always rather go hear a new band than an old one. Simply put, I love hearing the current generation interpret the influences of my lifetime.

But listening to the Psychedelic Furs last night, I was reminded of the sound that generations of bands have been borrowing from to make me their fan today.

Sorry, kids, but unless you're going to be able to age as well and sound as good in 30+ years as the Psychedelic Furs do, you'll never know the pleasures of growing up with your audience.

There's a heartbreak beat 
playing all night long 
down on my street 
and it feels like love, 
got the radio on 
and it's all that we need

The best part is knowing that your romantic idols can grow up and still be just as charmingly romantic. It's all that we need.

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