Sunday, October 1, 2017

And It's All That You Got

It's always good to remember that the word fan comes from the word fanatic.

I don't think it's a reach to call a guy who's seen a band "dozens and dozens" of times over 20 years, a guy who last month went to Peru to see them perform, a guy who stripped off his regular shirt to reveal the band's t-shirt underneath, but only after they took the stage, fanatical.

I'm talking about Psychedelic Furs fan #1.

At first I just thought he was forward, leaning over to me in the darkness of the National as Bash and Pop bashed and popped on "Fast and Hard," to share that he hadn't seen a band in matching suits since the Dave Clark 5.

Right there, he's lost me. Are the Furs the only thing he's listened to since the Dave Clark 5? Or is he just hokey?

But when he came back from the restroom to find that the space next to me was still available, I didn't need to hear, "Thanks for saving my space for me." As if.

Honestly, I'd only noticed he'd left because I was glad he'd stop trying to initiate conversation.

When Bash and Pop finished with "Friday Night is Killing Me," he turned to ask how many times I'd seen the Furs.

Sure I'd sound like a dork, I said twice in three years. That's when he puffed up his chest and made it clear he was the experienced one since he'd crossed the equator and I'd never so much as left the state to see them.

But while he may have been an adoring Furs acolyte, he wasn't shy about passing judgement, either.

Richard Butler had removed his frock coat before beginning "Until She Comes" to reveal a button up black and white shirt with white piping. No surprise, he immediately pushed up the sleeves '80s-style to complete the look.

By the time the band finished "Heaven," #1 fan leaned over and announced, "Richard's getting man boobs. He's going to have to change his style of shirt."

Just for the record, #1 fan saw no irony in judging another middle-aged man's body while he himself was plenty solid around the mid-section.

That said, he was handy when I needed to know something quickly.

When they said goodnight. I turned to my walking encyclopedia of all things Furs to ask him if they do encores. He responded with three fingers and a prediction they'd begin with "India.

So you know, they did two songs and "India" was second. So there.

Was fan boy upset he was mistaken? Hell, no, because they led with "Sister Europe," a song he hadn't heard them do live in 20 years. He was very, very excited about this.

All throughout the band's set, fan boy would dance off beat and try to mimic the excellent dancing and hand motions of Richard onstage. The problem is that Richard becomes the lyrics - he has gestures for praying, raining, hearing, loving, talking and, during "All That Money Wants," vein-tapping - and no one, not even a fervent follower, can keep up.

Midway through their set, fan boy was jolted when the next song was not what he anticipated. "Oh, good, they're mixing it up!" he exclaimed, clapping his hands in delight. "This isn't the same set list as Peru!"


And woe to the couple who decided to air their dirty laundry at #1 fan's favorite band's show. The oblivious lovebirds situated themselves right in front of him and I, allowing us to watch the arc of an argument and its aftermath play out in front of us.

First it was clear disagreement, then a protracted period of discussion and eventual settling of the matter. You'd think that the worst part would be the standing make-up sex that came afterwards (tongues and hands were flying), but in actuality, it was the post-coital drunken dissection of what had just gone wrong ("I'm not going to do it!" and "So I'm the bad Adam because I won't dance?") that led to fan boy standing up for his right to worship at the Furs' altar.

"Can you be quiet?" he demanded of the lovebirds. "I came to hear the show!"

It was enough for Romeo to half walk, half-carry Juliet out of the National and make fan boy (and honestly, me) very, very happy.

Of course, that could be said about every song the band played, whether a huge hit or lesser known. I can tell you that the most phones came out to capture "Pretty in Pink," the loudest roar was for "Love My Way," it took a while before most of the room recognized "Heartbreak Beat" and "Ghost in You" got its own interpretive dance thanks to Richard.

It was also a heavily paired-off crowd and what wasn't coupled was male. Think middle-aged meat market for those who weren't happily-ever-aftering and still like synths.

So with fan boy to my right (of course he had to be in front of the center of the sound booth for optimum viewing), I couldn't help but chat up the woman on my left, only to learn that she was 4 or 5 when she first heard the Furs. For her at 36, it was music from her childhood.

Naturally, I wanted to know if the current music she listens to pulls from the Furs' sound. She was somewhat perplexed by the question, but thought maybe so. Some of it. Kind of.

Spare me the lack of opinion.

As for people I actually knew, there was a favorite WRIR couple who stopped to chat on their way down front for a close-up view. Like me, they'd seen the band here in 2015 and couldn't think of a single reason not to come enjoy them again this Saturday night.

Then on my way out, I ran into  an arty couple I'd seen at my first Furs show in 2014. They'd somehow recognized me (short woman, big hair, constantly dancing) from the back while standing behind the sound booth while I was in front of it.

"They're always so good," she said, while I got shallow and pointed out that Richard Butler has aged awfully well. After all, a show is audio and visual, right?

And if you don't think #1 fan likes the visual as much as the audio, you're kidding yourself.

Let's just say I'm not the one who went to Peru or noticed the man boobs.

When the synth and sax are wailing and Richard Butler's singing, "And it feels like love and it don't mean a lot," I'm thinking that it's all that we got and I'm not looking at his chest.

I'm in heaven.

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