I wrote this, then left it languishing in my drafts folder. I looked back over it as I prepared to publish it. What a night! Sorry so late!
The night of the show finally came and I was stoked. As I parked backwards in the parking garage in the 4th spot in I had a final Topper stick to tide me over for the next several hours and then paid my parking fee and headed for the The Sylvee.
I ended up being the 5th person in line. In the time we were waiting we chatted and I was with a woman on her own who was definitely there to see X (the opening band) and a couple who were from the Chicago area and came to Madison some years ago. There was talk of Poplar Creek (where I graduated -a story for another time) and shows there. It was a nice way to while away the time before doors opened.
… and yes, Art Paul Schlosser was there.
Once through the security station I headed for the bar to get my cider and then joined that same group I was standing talking to at the front of the stage security rail. The couple and the woman I waited with outside were to my left and shortly 2 ladies whom couldn’t have been over 20 were to my right. More about them later.
There was more conversation about the band X than there was about The Furs, but people there early tend to be familiar with the openers. It’s natural. For me, I had heard of the band, but only knew 1 song from back in my UW Milwaukee days.
At one point, there were several roadies and sound guys setting up and one guy was tuning on Billy Zoom’s guitar. Turns out it WAS Billy. He tuned, then looked out and surveyed the crowd. Someone yelled to him and he smiled then went backstage again. After a bit, and on time, they came out to play.
That’s Exene Cervenka (vocals), John Doe (bass), guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer D. J. Bonebrake. There was another guy who came out on a couple songs to play acoustic with them, and then took over drums so D. J. Bonebreak could do a surprise vibe solo for a song. Didn’t expect that!
So, the energy was for sure high for X but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the 2 20-something girls to my right. I don’t typically swear in my posts, but here it is 100% necessary to describe their level of appreciation for the band. They absolutely lost their fucking minds when the band played. The were shrieking and woo-ing at the very top of their lungs and holding the security rail and jumping up and down, flailing their hair and just going nuts. They were TOTALLY digging it. They maintained this level of intensity throughout the X set and beyond. They knew the words to songs and absolutely lost their shit for every solo anyone did. It was nuts, but, a respectful nuts. A couple times they bumped into me and apologized. It just goes to show you, all kinds and all ages come to shows. On my left we had quiet mesmerized folks and on my right 2 girls that acted like they were seeing the Beatles for the first time.
Of course X was great, I was digging it totally. Billy Zoom was creating shredding soundscapes with a tiny economy of movement, just sitting calmly on his stool.
In this shot of Billy Zoom he is observing the 2 girls to my right. He made eye contact with almost everyone in the front. It was very intimate in the frenzy of sound. He really connected with the crowd.
Being down front was awesome.
Then Billy licked his guitar pick, stuck it to his forehead and played some sax for a while. The 2 girls went even more nuts.
Then left it there for the rest of the set. Guessing he has done this before.
He did stand up for a bit and I did get this awesome shot of him framing his name on the equipment case with his legs.
The set was fantastic and I definitely have to check out more of this band. At the end Exene grabbed a set list, wadded it up and threw it to the girls to my right. Payoff for their exuberance. They were blown away.
The lady from the wait outside who was definitely there to see X and wasn’t interested in The Psychedelic Furs said her goodbyes and left. Moments later, Billy Zoom came out to the security zone and was shaking hands and talking with folks and taking pictures with them.
Of course he stopped to talk with whom I learned to be Molly (and her friend whos name I didn’t catch. He gave them both a pick and took pictures with them. It was cool of him for sure. He worked his way down the line all the way to the end. I got to shake hands with him.
Then the lights went down and some “we’re coming out soon” music began to play. This was it !
Throughout the show I took a ton of pictures, finding the line between enjoying and documenting and ended up with 127 pictures. As I have started doing I turned them all into a photo montage, which you can check out below.
I’m not going to put all that in this post but I will highlight some shots I think were the best of the night.
Richard strode onto the stage wearing a sparkly suitcoat and fancy pinstripe pants with white scuffed up tennis shoes. They started with “I Wanna Sleep With You” and it was great.
Immediately Richard and Tim started coming to stage front and even mugging for the cameras in the front row.
They did this when I saw them at The Majestic in 2013 but I wasn’t front row for that.
This time I was down front and LOVING it.
There was a new drummer (Zack Alford), Amanda was on the keyboards (didn’t get any specific shots of her) and Mars was on sax and Rich on guitar.
There was also a second new guitarist that came out for a few songs. Not sure I got any shots of him.
The band was on fire and crushing it. Feeling the music live beats even the best headphones and my Eargasm earpugs worked great, halfway in on the left and all the way in on the right due to Molly and her friend who yes, continued their frenzied appreciation assault. They were loving it.
They played songs from the new album “Made of Rain” and lots of classics. Richard’s voice is still strong and I’ll be honest, Tim is my bass playing spirit animal.
Richard loves to come to stage front and contort himself in all manner of rock and roll poses. Not sure I could replicate these poses anymore.
Of course everyone went nuts (not Molly and her friend nuts, but nuts all the same) when they played “Pretty In Pink”.
Oh, there is the second guitarist, under Richard’s are in the background.
Rare smiling Richard.
Whimsical Richard. Also you can see Amanda in the background.
Here is the set list that they performed I am pretty sure. I didn’t write them down at the show, but did find another show in YouTube that indicated that show was the same setlist as Madison.
I Wanna Sleep With You
You’ll Be Mine
The Boy Who Invented Rock And Roll
Imitation Of Christ
The Ghost In You
Pretty In Pink
This’ll Never Be Love
Love My Way
After they played “The Ghost In You” I decided to record one song, whatever came next. So, I got “President Gas” which means more to me these days than when I dug it back in high school.
At one point Rich came over in front of us and did a solo and Molly and her friend went berzerk. He definitely noticed and tossed his pick to them. Now I’ve been to a lot of shows where picks are tossed and 9 times out of 10 they never land where they are intended. Molly snatched it out of the air like a lizard grabbing a fly with it’s tongue. Shhhnap!
So if your keeping track, that’s a set list and picks from Billy Zoom and guitar pick from Rich and spoiler alert, though they didn’t have set lists taped to the floor, apparently there was one somewhere because someone jumped down from the stage and gave it to Molly.
It’s difficult to describe how good the music was. I have been a fan of Psychedelic Furs since I was in high school, and saw them in 2013 and expected this show to be good, but it was great.
I was really watching Tim play. He seemed to be setting such a simple line, but it filled so good. He, like Billy Zoom had an economy of movement but was making a groove run through us all.
I know Amanda was also adding a whole dimension to the sound that would truly be missed. She was just back there doing her thing in the same spot the whole show. At one point Molly and her friend screamed out “We love you Amanda!”
I took advantage of the group I had joined at stage front and gotten to the merch table before the show and picked up a one of the only light colored shirts. I inside outted it so I could hang it over the rail to try and keep it clean. Got it home safe.
They took a break for a very short bit and came back to play “Heartbreak Beat” and “India” the latter song sort of getting a whole new life for me and after the show I had to listen to that track again from the first album.
Then all too soon it was over and the house lights came up. Outside, the marquee was lit up and I got a final shot for the night.
My park job allowed me to get out in about 1 minute after I started the car and I made it home before 12:30.
What a great night!