Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Psyched

"There's too many kings/wanna hold you down/and a world at the window/gone underground
There's a hole in the sky/where the sun don't shine/and a clock on the wall/and it counts my time
And Heaven, is the whole of our hearts/and Heaven don't tear you apart
Yeah, Heaven is the whole of our hearts/and Heaven don't tear you apart"
- Psychedelic Furs, "Heaven"

I'm inordinately excited about the Psych Furs show tonight - more than I guess I thought I would be. But there are reasons.

I didn't pay much attention to their first album and still rarely listen to more than a couple of songs ("India" being an exception). But when my neighbor Sally Dunning (she was the local Columbia Records rep at the time) dropped a stack of promos on my lap one afternoon that included their second album "Talk Talk Talk", I was blown away. The original version of "Pretty in Pink" would have been enough to make it a stellar album but songs like "She is Mine", "Into You Like a Train" and "All of This and Nothing" made it a classic, one of the few albums I can think of that doesn't have a single dud.

As you would imagine, I was seriously stoked for their show at Page Auditorium with the X-Teens and... it was awful. Just wretched. The band might have been fine, but I was sitting on the last row of the balcony and not only could I not really see them, the sound was just a muddy catastrophe. So I felt like I'd still never seen the Psych Furs.

A couple of years later I met this Jeannette girl (some of you may have heard of her) as I was getting ready to move to the Washington Metro area (Gaithersburg, MD to be exact). She joined me up there and we were engaged to be married by the middle of August and a week later "Mirror Moves" dropped and "Heaven" became our song. There was a lot of good music around that summer and fall of 1984 but while we were getting to know each other (and eating Chocolate Coconut Sour Cream Blackout Cake at Kramerbooks and drinking and dancing at Cagney's on Dupont Circle and shopping for funky clothes at Commander Salamander in Georgetown), "Heaven" was our soundtrack (and I don't think I ever walked into Commander Salamander without hearing it).

So we moved back to NC and got married and bought a rock and roll club and then sadly we sold it. I missed the last weekend as I had to be in Columbia, MD for a tech class (for my day job) so as soon as Jeannette handed over the keys, she got on a plane to BWI and joined me. The consolation was that the Furs were playing at Merriweather Post Pavilion right there in Columbia while we were there. That was one of the first of the big amphitheaters that most cities seem to now have and the Furs were there with The Blow Monkeys (who's entire catalog I think was the single "Digging Your Scene" back by a remix of "Digging Your Scene").

The show was awful. Just wretched. Again, nothing to do with the band. I was in a foul mood, after first having to sell the club and then missing the final weekend. I'm sure Jeannette was not in much better shape. Then we were faced with stringent (and what felt at the time like unnecessarily invasive) security measures to get in, which with the mood we were in did not go over well. Then the Blow Monkeys came on and... uh... oh, damn they were boring. But there was a sizable contingent of people there who were there for them that just annoyed the hell out of me. So by the time the Furs came out, there was no hope that I was going to enjoy the show. I remember very little about the performance.

So I was 0-for-2 in good experiences in seeing the Psychedelic Furs with few-to-zero chances to see them in the intervening years.

Finally, 25 years later, they booked a "very limited" tour to commemorate the 30th anniversary of "Talk Talk Talk". That "limited" tag was soon replaced as they added a bunch of tour dates that included the Cat's Cradle. And this time, it was magnificent. They played the album in its entirety followed by a bunch of other material and it was everything it should have been. And everything those previous shows should have been. Finally.

So now they're off the schneid and the pressure's off and now I can't wait until showtime.



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