Call it the summer of the 80s in SLC.
Salt Lake audiences, by the end of the summer, will have seen shows by The Cure, Howard Jones and OMD, Blondie, Culture Club, Tears For Fears, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, Def Leopard, REO Speedwagon, and Heart—and more. And last night, at The Complex, The Church and Psychedelic Furs joined the party, to much less fanfare than the others.
The bands, admittedly, don’t have much more in common than the decade they rose to prominence, but that didn’t stop the crowd—a mix of middle aged folks attempting to recapture their youth and young goths who were born a few decades too late—from showing up in surprisingly large numbers to see them. Creating a crowded, hot and miserable experience on the floor of the larger of the two rooms at The Complex, which is hands-down the worst indoor venue in Salt Lake.
The floors are flat, the room is narrow and the security, which always seems like overkill, took away the pens I had in my purse—along with what was clearly a reporters notebook, despite my protests and all in the name of safety. God knows what a pudgy 36-year old mother of two and music writer could do with a Sharpie if left to her own devices. In any case, if you find this review light on detail, blame security, not me.
The Church opened the set with a fairly short playlist of nine songs, a surprising move since they, unlike the Furs, have released some new music since the Reagan administration. Lead singer Steve Kilbey set the mood for the rest of the band by standing still practically the entire set with a seemingly clear disregard for the audience, who, unlike me, seemed to know the words to plenty of songs that were not “Under The Milky Way,” the bands biggest hit and one hell of a song.
What the Psychedelic Furs lack in catalog they made up for in stage presence. Lead singer Richard Butler’s gravelly voice may have lost some of its power, but the integrity was still there as he bounced around the stage, playing off other band members—the best of which may have been sax player Mars Williams, whose cool-guy sunglasses and sax solos really made the entire show an homage to the 80s that couldn’t have been more obvious if they’d brought out Tom Cruise in his tighty-whiteys and a Save Ferris tee-shirt holding a Care Bear. (Note to band: Hey, guys, that might be a million dollar idea—please credit me if that comes together.)
The highlight of the evening, definitely came at the end of the show, when the Furs were joined on stage for “Pretty In Pink,” during the encore by Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers, a modern band for whom the Furs influence is obvious. And maybe that’s what makes all of these 80s bands still relevant, if it’s true that there’s nothing new under the sun and we’re just making the same music over and over again, last night proved that we could be doing much worse than pulling from these two bands for inspiration.
But last night also served as a reminder that it’s been a while since The Killers have played here. What’s up with that, Ronnie?