There was a heatwave in the city when the Furs came to town. Fans waited in temperatures that would melt plastic outside the club that sits on the shore of Lake Ontario. The only relief came when the doors opened into the air-conditioned, state-of-the-art Rebel that can fit over 6,200 people.
Los Angeles outfit Dear Boy opened the evening. Their set of pleasant pop had some tunes as sunny as their hometown.
Mancunians James took the stage and singer Tim Booth introduced the band as the fake Furs. After singing “Heads” (about how the American dream doesn’t exist) he asserted that they would be singing the song in the U.S.A. While they went through their 10-song set, he went out into the audience, talked about Neil Young, whom he described as a “fine human” and said he enjoys “Heart of Gold,” and told a story of how the band took out the peas from his maracas and then they disappeared. He had some serpentine moves too.
A little before 11:00 pm, The Psychedelic Furs started on a mellow note with “Heaven.” Lead singer Richard Butler considers himself an artist first (he paints mainly modernist portraits of his daughter), and a musician second. He has a flair for performance that few musicians have, and his theatricality is innate. He still has his signature moves, but there is a joy in him that didn’t exist in the early days of the Furs. He, his brother Tim, guitarist Rich Good and saxophonist Mars Williams, gave a fluid performance, moving around the stage and interacting with each other. While Tim Butler doesn’t officially add back up vocals, he often sings the lyrics with relish sans microphone, sometimes to targeted members of the audience. Desert dweller Rich Good, who took over guitar duties a decade ago, was focused and cool as an English cucumber.
The band only played 12 songs in total with one encore. The set included the seminal “Love My Way,” a song included in 2017’s lauded film, Call Me by Your Name,which also gave a nod to Richard Butler in the dialogue. The time constraints didn’t allow much interaction with the audience. The melodies, Butler’s characteristic rasp, and his thespian delivery only whet the fans’ appetite – they did not satisfy it. All in all, too brief.