Concert Review: Psychedelic Furs, James hop pond to Reno

Tahoe Onstage

Richard Butler is pretty in … lavender as The Psychedelic Furs rock the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.
Shaun Astor / Tahoe Onstage photos

Spanning eras and continents, Saturday night saw the visit by two bands hailing from England — The Psychedelic Furs and James — to Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort.

Billed as a co-headlining tour, openers James saw their peak popularity in the 1990s, although the band’s fame in their home country never quite made the jump to the United States. So while the co-headlining format of the tour may have been a great idea for those who were aware of both bands, Saturday’s show seemed apparent that most people were attending to see one or the other of the performers.

It was clear who attended to see James, as a good portion of the audience members were on their feet, phones in the air while singing along to the group’s light-drenched renditions of their cerebral club rock. Singer Tim Booth would move in spastic motions beneath the strobes before climbing over the barrier from the stage and performing a final song, “Come Home,” while walking through the Grand Theatre’s aisles amidst the audience.

The Psychedelic Furs took the stage to the keyboard tones of “Love My Way.” While most of the Furs’ songwriting peak occurred a decade before those of James, brothers and the only remaining original members — vocalist Richard Butler and bass player Tim Butler — moved fluidly throughout the stage, mixing the band’s more well-known polished new wave love songs with a strong leaning toward more energetic rock-infused material, primarily off the earlier “S/T” and “Talk Talk Talk” albums.

For all of the James’ alternative rock air, the Furs displayed a more bombastic show. With Richard Butler often referencing preferring the band’s more art rock-influenced early sound over its later radio friendly material, The Furs have replaced departing original members with other notable underground musicians, with their current touring lineup including members of glitch-synth pioneers Information Society and Bay Area band The Pleased (most noted for being Joanna Newsom’s pre-solo music project).

As demonstrated Saturday evening, the results were a sonic performance of a Best-Of set list of their classics, although they did veer from past tours and slip in one new song, which will soon appear on a forthcoming album, the band’s first since 1991’s “World Outside.”

The co-headline tour may have suffered a little due to a clear dichotomy of fans, but such a format allowed for each band to bring their most concise performances. While neither has been very prolific at recording new music, both offered sets that were recorded in very distinct musical eras, making the elements right for the night’s nostalgia run strong among the varying attendees.

— Shaun Astor

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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