Concert Review: Duran Duran Shows They’re Still the Wild Boys

Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes

Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran

It might be 30 years later but the girls, make that women, still have their first love.

The 80s heartthrobs gave the Pacific Northwest just one stop on their current tour in support of the new album Paper Gods (released Sept. 11) making it at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup on Wednesday tearing through a solid 19-song set full of their most popular hits and a good sampling of the latest release.

The one-time screaming teenagers have grown up and so have Duran Duran but time has yet to catch up with the artist one time known as the Fab 5. Celebrating their 14th studio album and first to land in the Top 10 in 22 years, Duran Duran got right to business showcasing the new record and opened the show with the title tract stepping on stage to some thunder and lightning, a la some strobes, before the song’s familiar opening chant began.

But it wasn’t long before the hits came as they rolled out four straight with “Hungry Like the Wolf,” a stellar version of “A View to a Kill,” the very fun “The Reflex,” and “Come Undone.” The band went back to Paper Gods with the dance tract “Last Night in the City” and the great “What Are The Chances?”

John Taylor

John Taylor

The new album is an interesting mix of classic Duran Duran with some dance heavy riff tunes but a few take a big departure from anything the band has recorded. However, the song “Paper Gods” continues much in the same vein as their last release All You Need Is Now which didn’t get tapped into at all. “Last Night in the City” indeed offers a fun beat and “What Are The Chances?” should go down as a DD classic.

The band returned to their roots with “Notorious” as Nile Rodgers, co-writer of the song and producer of several Duran Duran albums helped out on guitar and it was back to the new album with “Pressure Off” one of the strongest new songs (which features Rodgers) that’s getting some radio play and showered the front section with confetti upon its completion.

“Planet Earth” with the slick John Taylor bass line sounded as new as the previous song despite being more than three decades older. Duran Duran brought back their 1993 self-titled record also known as The Wedding Album a second, and not the last time, with “Ordinary World.” Singer Simon LeBon dedicated it the band’s fan base that’s stuck around for so many years and genuinely seemed touch by the large turnout.

Simon LeBon

Simon LeBon

“(Reach Up For The) Sunrise” the first tract off 2004’s Astronaut, the band’s first with the original five, who then reunited after nearly 20 years, featured a great guitar by the now departed Andy Taylor’s replacement, Dom Brown. “Wild Boys” kept the crowd buzzed which got killed by “Danceophobia,” the last of the new songs. No, the lads didn’t truck out Lindsey Lohan, who is a guest on the album version, but it stuck out like a sore thumb on the setlist just as it does on Paper Gods. It’s not the only one on the album either but luckily the only one played live.

Perhaps paying homage to their last Top 10 album in the charts, Duran Duran grabbed a third song off The Wedding Album with the rarely played “Too Much Information” and closed out the main set with the always played “Girls on Film.” The encore featured the cover “White Lines,” the female favorite “Save a Prayer” and finally “Rio.”

Though the treble seemed a bit high, at times too high, during most of the concert, it was a mostly flawless evening with LeBon, now 56, nailing the vocals and even taking it to new heights on “What Are The Chances.” (Check out that album version!). He’s shaved the beard and looks nowhere near 60 thanks to a boyish haircut.

The ageless Nick Rhodes, with a bevy of keyboards, delivered all those crazy electronic sounds and drummer Roger Taylor, of course, kept time. Though original guitarist Andy Taylor left 10 years ago, Brown (could he be Dexter Morgan’s brother?) has handled the axe ever since and turned it up a bit for “Girls on Film” and “Rio.”

Playing at the fairgrounds (a surprisingly big venue) is a long way from the rabid stadium sell-outs during the second British invasion, however, Duran Duran is still together and they’re far more than a touring nostalgia act. They’ve released four albums since 2004 and suddenly seem back on everyone’s radar. Paper Gods doesn’t rise to the band’s standard level of fare however it’s got some gems scattered throughout and shows these guys have more to play.

And for many they remain the wild boys of their youth.

Related: Concert Review: Duran Duran Heats Up Agua Caliente Casino

Duran Duran Washington State Fair Setlist:

  1. Paper Gods
  2. Hungry Like The Wolf
  3. A View To A Kill
  4. The Reflex
  5. Come Undone
  6. Last Night In The City
  7. What Are The Chances?
  8. Notorious
  9. Pressure Off
  10. Planet Earth
  11. Ordinary World
  12. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise
  13. The Wild Boys
  14. Danceophobia
  15. Too Much Information
  16. Girls On Film
  17. White Lines (Don’t Do It)
  18. Save A Prayer
  19. Rio

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Def Leppard Gets Loud Just Outside Portland

Def Leppard Banner

Def Leppard is not burning out or fading away anytime soon.

The British rockers cranked up the volume to a massive crowd on Thursday just up the road from Portland, OR at the Amphitheater Northwest in Ridgefield, WA playing a mostly-hits setlist for 90 minutes leaving little doubt these guys were ready to rock.

With the sometimes face tingling vibration emitting from the speakers, the audience often matched the intensity of Def Leppard’s performance with their own singing back in unison to the chorus on most of the songs that demanded it. Letting up only handful of times, even when Def Leppard played their slowed paced fare, none of the life was ever sucked from the crowd through the 17 song evening.

Def Leppard opened with “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)” then the popular “Animal” and “Let It Go” before finally blazing out the massive 80’s hit “Foolin’”. A fantastic and welcome addition to the setlist was “Paper Sun” off 1999’s Euphoria which hasn’t been played live since that tour. The war imagery played behind the band added to the song’s heavy lyrics about the 1998 Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland.

The emotion got pulled a different direction with couples slow dancing to “Love Bites” then everyone got into it for “Armageddon It.” The cover “Rock On” fits with Def Leppard’s music and included a cool bass opening by Rick Savage, but is totally unnecessary for a band with 10 albums and #11 due October 30. How about a sneak preview especially considering singer Joe Elliott announced a single was just released to radio?

Joe Elliott

Joe Elliott sings “Two Steps Behind”

Recent tours featured the band performing a stripped down version of the ballad “Two Steps Behind” another female favorite, but they went a step further and left Elliott alone in front of the mic with  an acoustic guitar. It worked.

The band came back in force with the stellar “Rocket” and the complimenting duo of guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell playing together trading off on solos. The band slowed it down again with “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” and just like on High N Dry, and sometimes what you hear on radio, they blended it right into the instrumental “Switch 625.” The guys should do more of those. Hair nation aside, they’re a hard rock band through and through and “Switch” is as solid as it gets.

The show closed with “Hysteria,” “Let’s Get Rocked” and of course their anthem “Pour Some Sugar on Me” which never disappoints. They encored with “Rock of Ages” and the trip down memory lane with “Photograph.”

Campbell and Collen

Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen

All told, it was a flawless show full of arena rock anthems and boundless energy. Campbell, looking dapper all evening, showed no ill effects from the Hodgkin’s lymphoma he’s been battling which returned again this year after seemingly past successful treatments. The shirtless Collen shredded through his solos with flair and the two compliment each other rather nobly, each getting his turn under the lights. Elliott’s vocals were solid and might not harken back to the high notes of the 80s but it’s been that way for years now and he’s found a decent range that fits right in. Drummer Rick Allen never ceases to amaze.

Def Leppard got short-changed a bit their last time through town as the opener for KISS so hearing a longer setlist plus the inclusion of “Paper Sun” made if feel less like the band wringing out what they could from past tours. However, much of the backing video for songs most notably on “Photograph” and “Love Bites” was the same.

To pull off what was little more of a “Best of” show is a testament to not only their longevity, approaching 40 years, but even just the outright number and variety of radio staples. They’ve got hard charging rock and then melodic ballads that bring out the women in droves. But what seems to happen with all veteran acts especially with today’s music industry is a failure to get a fan base for new material. So it won’t be a surprise if Def Leppard encounters the same fate with next month’s self-titled album. Therefore, it makes good sense to play one tract off it even if hard core fans haven’t had a chance to digest it, just as a way to ratchet up the excitement.

But if 15,000 flock to hear 30 year old songs and what’s heard daily on radio then returning next summer with a new album in tow and some fresh and exciting songs, then it shan’t be too much of a problem to get those same fans and perhaps a few new ones to head back out in droves.

Styx opened and though their setlist was pretty much the same as they’ve toured for years they certainly took advantage of the big stage. Styx always puts on a solid performance but seemed to put just a little more effort showing how good they are. They opened with “The Grand Illusion” and played half off their iconic The Grand Illusion album.

Though the current lineup has been together now for nearly 15 years, longer than the classic line-up (i.e.  Dennis DeYoung) stayed intact, the band often plays sold out shows at smaller venues, most notably casinos, but headlining large sheds or an arena tour is probably at this point a thing of the past. Styx played a nine song set for an hour, including an encore. Tesla opened the evening with a 40 minute set.

Def Leppard Portland (Northwest Ampitheater) Setlist:

  1. Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)
  2. Animal
  3. Let It Go
  4. Foolin’
  5. Paper Sun
  6. Love Bites
  7. Armageddon It
  8. Rock On
  9. Two Steps Behind
  10. Rocket
  11. Bringing On the Heartbreak
  12. Switch 626
  13. Hysteria
  14. Let’s Get Rocked
  15. Pour Some Sugar On Me
  16. Rock of Ages
  17. Photograph

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Foo Fighters a Scream in Portland

The next Foo Fighters album should be named Scream.

It would be fitting considering Dave Grohl, the founder, guitarist, lead singer and apparently all around good guy really likes to scream. Which he did on Monday in near glorious fashion to an adoring sold-out crowd at the Moda Center in Portland, OR.

In what’s billed as a 20th Anniversary Tour, Foo Fighters played 23 songs for nearly 2 hours and 45 minutes helmed by a tireless Grohl situated atop a specially designed throne, complete with a cup holder, so he could mend his right leg which he broke three months ago during a show in Sweden.

Head banging that would make Dave Mustaine proud, Grohl didn’t miss a note all evening as Foo Fighters opened with “All My Life” and one of the band’s best songs “Times Like These” which didn’t quite give the emotional tug the album version provides thanks to the aggressively sung lyrics. “Learn to Fly” featured Grohl pulling back on the screaming and slowing the song’s tempo a bit midway through really worked. “Something From Nothing” was the first of just three songs played from the new album Sonic Highways, out last year.

Grohl dreamed up his mobile “rock” throne, which looks like a steroid-infused, genetically modified cousin of the Doom Buggies at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion ride, while high on pain killers for his broken leg. It took its first trip down the large fret board resembling catwalk, that jetted out into the general admission floor crowd, for “Pretender” much to the delight of everyone who got even more boisterous when he stood up for a bit. “Pretender” was one of many songs to get extra time with a longer impromptu like arrangement from the band.

The slower tempo given to “Big Me” helped show off Grohl’s actual singing voice  and then it was on to the fantastic “Congregation” from Sonic Highways and finally “Walk” before a really long drawn out band introduction featuring snippets of songs from other artists which unfortunately foreshadowed what was to come.

With the introductions out of the way, Foo Fighters ripped into “Cold Day in the Sun” sung very well by drummer Taylor Hawkins and the crowd and radio favorite “My Hero””which got things rocking. Two more from 2011” Wasting Light with the punk infused “White Limo” – just an all-out Grohl scream fest – worked surprisingly well live and they killed it on the rather melodic “Arlandria” incorporating an all-out jam.

The final new song of the night “Outside” featured what was probably the first guitar solo ever played on a walking cast boot.  The song didn’t resonate well overall thanks to the guitars and drums drowning Grohl’s vocals and mudding the melody a bit – just way too loud – but the boot solo more than made up for it.  Grohl dedicated “Breakout” to dads driving minivans and the crowd didn’t let up for “This is a Call” the first tract off the band’s debut album, 20 years ago.

The very obscure “Hey, Johnny Park!” came courtesy of an audience member call-out followed by one of the band’s most popular songs “Monkey Wrench” both off 1997’s The Colour And The Shape the band’s second album. Then came the covers.

Queen’s “Under Pressure” indeed rocked and Grohl even got that falsetto down but he kept urging the crowd to ask for more covers which ended up as three straight Van Halen songs “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” sung by Hawkins who sounded very much like the other Dave, “Panama” and “You Really Got Me” which technically isn’t Van Halen’s but they made it popular.

Why an established band insists on playing someone else’s material makes little sense. Foo Fighters have a strong catalog of songs and besides what’s with playing just three songs off the new record? Not even “Subterranean” made the setlist, a song Grohl said was inspired by the end of Nirvana, you know, that band he used to play drums on.

Grohl is one of the best ambassadors, if not the ambassador for rock music right now, but Sonic Highways felt dismissed rather than promoted. Grohl is clearly proud of that record; he even went so far as to produce a documentary series about its production. And, um, the concert ticket says “Foo Fighters” not Van Halen. That band visited the Portland area a few months ago and if we wanted to hear their songs, then we’d go see them.

If the attempt here is to pay some type of homage to the past then here’s an idea: Grohl should switch places with Hawkins and they play one Nirvana song. Perhaps “You Know You’re Right” the last complete song recorded by Nirvana in the same studio that Foo Fighters also got its start. Epic.

Foo Fighters finally got back to business closing out the show with a very cool rendition of “Best of You” and ending the evening with a Grohl favorite in “Everlong.” And no silly encore! Not that it would make sense having Grohl gimping off stage and then back on.

In many respects, Grohl’s charisma makes the show. He’s funny and when he calls out random members of the audience has offers little, if any, filter. He comes across as everybody’s favorite but crazy uncle who enjoys salty language but the difference is he’s not a deadbeat. Instead of sitting on the couch at home mindlessly strumming a guitar and milking his injury, he’s sitting in front of a sold-out arena firing off guitar chords for nearly three hours. Earlier in the show he said he likes to talk and that’s true, but he loves to play and he really loves to play for an audience.

“I can do this sh** all night long,” he said.

Foo Fighters second ever live show (but first in a major city) was held in Portland at the now extinct Satyricon, something Grohl seemed to recall fondly when he introduced “Big Me.” Grohl said opening act The Presidents of the United States of America blew them off the stage that night. But it had been seven years since the band visited the Rose City which perhaps explains why a large majority of those in attendance were seeing Foo Fighters for the first time.

It’s Grohl’s band but it’s not all about him as he described Hawkins as the missing link. Watching him pound away with that permanent grimace is almost as fun as watching the front man. Grohl is also flanked by two adept guitar players in Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear. Bassist Nate Mendel does indeed keep the funk in the chunk of the Foo Fighters but not really sure the need for the touring keyboardist because the synths had no chance against the hard charging rock of three guitars and Hawkins merciless drumming.

Grohl doesn’t seem to tire, ever, and watching him play, sitting down while nursing a broken leg is a testament to his virtuosity and really something to watch. It takes skills to play the way he does when healthy but a totally different skill set to play sitting down with a handcuff around your leg.

There’s no doubt Foo Fighters can celebrate 30 years or even 40 years however eventually he’s going to have to take a different approach to song writing. Not only did he scream through most of the songs, and no not screamo, he screamed even when he didn’t have to, and often screamed when addressing the crowd. It’s comical at times and somehow he made it through an entire show without losing his voice.

Sure, maybe it’s his trademark not to mention how ironic that he joined a punk band named Scream prior to his stint with Nirvana, (hey – the new aptly album named would bring him full circle) but he’s got a good vocal range when actually singing and a great voice. The scream fest takes a bit off the listening pleasure that so many of Foo Fighter songs bring and as far as longevity, he won’t have those chops in 10 years.

Foo Fighters Portland (Moda Center) Setlist:

  1. All My Life
  2. Times Like These
  3. Learn To Fly
  4. Something From Nothing
  5. Pretender
  6. Big Me
  7. Congregation
  8. Walk
  9. Cold Day in the Sun
  10. My Hero
  11. White Limo
  12. Arlandria
  13. Outside
  14. Breakout
  15. This is a Call
  16. Hey, Jonny Park
  17. Monkey Wrench
  18. Under Pressure
  19. Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love
  20. Panama
  21. You Really Got Me
  22. Best of You
  23. Everlong

Written By: AndrewT

Album Review: Duran Duran – Paper Gods

Sooner or later it seems everyone comes to grips with their mortality and what lies beyond.

It makes for good discussions among friends and when musicians enter that phase of life it tends to come out in their music. Such appears to be the case with Duran Duran and their new album Paper Gods, out September 11.

The 12-song record is the band’s 14th and fourth since the 80s heartthrobs reunited in 2004 with the great Astronaut. Though guitarist Andy Taylor left the band, again, shortly after, the core of the group Simon Le Bon, Roger Taylor, John Taylor and Nick Rhodes remains intact.

Paper Gods should certainly be praised for the band’s attempt to reach something not only out of their comfort zone (and their fans) but completely different from anything they’ve released. However, it’s a bit too far and falls well short of 2011’s classic All You Need Is Now.

The dance heavy album starts off with the title tract and perhaps a bit of a double entendre referring to religious beliefs all based on paper but there’s a clear shot against those who use faith to get rich –It’s all on sale for dirty cash/We can wash it clean /So hang it out on line/Confess and you’ll feel fine. It’s got a great bass line and despite the chanting that gets a bit old it’s one of the better songs on the album.

“Last Night in the City” is a straight-up dance song featuring somebody named Kiesza. Like any other dance tune out there it’s got a great beat and should prove popular in dance clubs the world over but radio airplay it will not.

“You Kill Me With Silence” feels like it was left off the last album and should have been left off this album. It’s a bit awkward, doesn’t boast much melody and though the guitar solo reaches it ultimately fumbles its way to the end.

“Pressure Off” was the first single released earlier this summer and for good reason, it’s one of the best songs. It features everything so many of the other tracts on this album are missing. It’s a vintage Duran Duran song without sounding like they’re trying to remake “Girls on Film” or “Rio.” “Face for Today” continues in the same vein and could be a forthcoming single.

“Danceophobia” is inexplicable. It’s definitely an attempt at producing another night club dance tract, is loaded with synthesizers and drummer Roger Taylor must have taken the day off because the drum machine abounds. Then Lindsay Lohan starts talking. The mid-song narrative worked on “The Man Who Stole a Leopard” from the last album but it completely fails here. So does Lindsay Lohan.

“What Are The Chances” in many respects saves this album because it is indeed a beautiful song with stellar vocals by Mr. Le Bon. “Paper Gods” started the religious theme and “Chances” continues that trek – So what are the chances/We are lost in the flow/And looking for answers. This is Duran Duran at its finest and they do a great job bringing in such emotional depth, when they want to.

“Sunset Garage” begins the last half of the album and gives bassist John Taylor a chance to shine with a great bass line. It’s a fun pop song  with a bit of 70s disco. The dance music returns with “Change the Skyline” another synth heavy song featuring someone named Jonas Bjerre followed by “Butterfly Girl” which invites another guest singer. It’s got a great opening funk beat with Taylor’s bass that helps carry the song but that noisy guitar solo falls way flat.

“Only in Dreams” strives to a be a strong cut, once it gets started, thanks to the catchy guitar lick but the silly synth jingle peppered throughout sounds like a frame from some bad 80s sitcom theme song. It’s annoying! Finally “The Universe Alone” closes out the album (a deluxe version features bonus tracts) and is pretty heavy lyrically – Now we go to face the universe alone/In plain view the mistakes we’ve made/But is there anything we’d really want to change. It’s a bit dreamy and gets away from the dance stuff but isn’t overly memorable though the imagery blasting through space using the guitar is effective.

Paper Gods comes across a bit confused. The album title starts it but the religious theme drops off so the band can dabble in some dance songs, then it picks up again, then drops and finally closes it out. On the plus side, it resembles little to anything from past efforts so give the boys some applause for not regurgitating their own sound. And Le Bon’s vocals? Just phenomenal.

But the dance tracks sound more like what fellow Brits the Pet Shops Boys have produced of late and it just doesn’t suit them. The songs come across like those extended play remixes DJs and other artists fool around with post-album release. The guest singers detract a bit and perhaps it’s an attempt to reach a younger, more “hip” audience but it’s a good bet the women who fill the seats on the forthcoming tour haven’t a clue who Mr. Hudson is.

The album is heavy on the drum machine and keyboards with a smattering of guitar, the latter feeling more of an afterthought. In many respects Paper Gods sounds like a pre-reunion release from the 90s when it was just Le Bon and Rhodes trying to carry the Duran Duran name forward.

Grade: C+

Duran Duran Paper Gods Track List:

  1. Paper Gods
  2. Last Night in the City
  3. You Kill Me with Silence
  4. Pressure Off
  5. Face for Today
  6. Danceophobia
  7. What Are the Chances?
  8. Sunset Garage
  9. Change the Skyline
  10. Butterfly Girl
  11. Only in Dreams
  12. The Universe Alone

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Social Distortion Brings 1990 into the Present at the Roseland Theater

Social Distortion stage

Social Distortion on stage at the Roseland Theater in Portland, OR

Social Distortion brought a full keg of piss and vinegar to their sold out performance on Saturday night at the Roseland Theater in Portland, OR as part of the band’s tour commemorating 25 years of their self-titled album.

Fronted by everyone’s favorite punk rocker Mike Ness, Social Distortion rocked for nearly two hours playing 18 songs including the entirety of the album that brought main stream success in 1990.

They wasted little time in delivering the goods opening the show with the first song off the album “So Far Away” and followed the tract list sequentially skipping only “Ring of Fire” saving it for the end of the night. Social Distortion executed each song with fiery intensity stopping only once between “Ball and Chain” and “It Coulda Been Me” so Ness could give the audience some background on how the album came together.

It was something to witness (and hear) however, when the band started the fantastic “Story of My Life,” the audience exploded. Then Ness dropped those opening lyrics anyone over the age of 18 knows too well – “High school seemed like such a blur” – and he had a 1,000 of the Social D faithful as background singers for the rest the likely anthem for many who were of that age back then.

Awesome.

The crowd pretty much had Ness’ back throughout the first hour which is how long it took to perform the album. The band played with precision, sounded great, except for the opening two songs when Ness’ mic came off a bit hot, and barely came up for air as they shredded through each song at a blistering pace.

Mike Ness

Mike Ness

Ness and rhythm guitarist Jonny “2 Bags” Wickersham each took turns in the spotlight and really classed up “Let it Be Me,” “Ball and Chain,” “She’s a Knockout” and the final tract “Drug Train” with extended solos and jamming around with bassist Brent Harding.

The band took a bit of a breather once they finished the eponymous album as if they were warming up prior to a practice session with Ness soloing a bit and addressing the crowd calling it “Buying time” before launching into “Cold Feelings” from 1992’s Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell. Then they really slowed the pace playing The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” which Ness said he first heard when he was five years old. The rather active mosh pit up until this point also took a breather.

They followed with Hank William’s “Alone and Forsake” which Social Distortion covered on their latest album Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes now four years old. They kept the pace slow with “This Time Darlin’” the penultimate tract off Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell then brought back the fury with the great “Far Behind” an ode for anyone who has ever been stabbed in the back.

Jonny Wickersham

Jonny “2 Bags” Wickersham

The encore included “Don’t Drag Me Down” off White Light White Heat White Trash and finally Johnny Cash’s famous “Folsom Prison Blues” then “Ring of Fire” which completed the entirety of the anniversary album and, could be argued, is now a Social Distortion song.

Ness, 53, was on a different level this evening. He was tireless and seems to have hit a new level of musicianship both on the guitar and his vocals. The man with the rough punk rock vocals actually hits high notes.

Mike Ness Singing

Mike Ness shows no signs of slowing down

It’s been 25 years and surely there’s been some tears (the death of co-founder Dennis Danell hurt) but Social Distortion’s self-titled album put the band in the stratosphere, albeit quite briefly, and Ness rarely looks back and certainly didn’t on Saturday. Prior sets sometime include a song off 1988’s Prison Bound though not often and usually just one tune off the band’s first full-length album Mommy’s Little Monster, 1982’s effort which cemented the band’s reputation in the punk scene.

Danell, who died of a brain aneurysm 15 years ago, was replaced by the very adept Wickersham and Brent Harding came onboard with his bass more than 10 years ago. Ness has found a new core for the band which works very well though he has replaced the drummer several times in the last decade a spot now occupied by David Hidalgo, Jr.

Ness said when he wrote Social Distortion rules had formed out of the 80s punk rock scene that tried to define what is and what isn’t a punk album. Punk rock is a rebellion, he said, and he didn’t want to follow any one’s lead or whatever ideals dictated such a record though admittedly he wasn’t sure if anyone would like it.

He was wrong.

Social Distortion Portland (Roseland Theater) Setlist:

  1. So Far Away
  2. Let It Be Me
  3. Story Of My Life
  4. Sick Boys
  5. Ball and Chain
  6. It Coulda Been Me
  7. She’s a Knockout
  8. A Place in My Heart
  9. Drug Train
  10. “Buying Time”
  11. Cold Feelings
  12. Wild Horses
  13. Alone and Forsaken
  14. This Time Darlin’
  15. Far Behind
  16. Don’t Drag Me Down
  17. Folsom Prison Blues
  18. Ring of Fire

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: Psychedelic Furs and The Church Reignite Themselves and the 80s at the Crystal Ballroom

It took 30 years but Psychedelic Furs and the Church are finally touring together.

Sure it was a much smaller venue than what the two 1980s stalwarts would likely have co-headlined back in 1985 had the plans then not fallen through but they didn’t sound any worse for the wear, in fact, sounded practically flawless and really not dated at all.

Despite tickets remaining available the day of the show on Wednesday at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR and what initially appeared to be a somewhat embarrassing low turnout, indeed the crowd filled out much of the Crystal’s famous bouncing dance floor but didn’t use it much.

The Church took the stage first, five minutes early to be precise (imagine that!) kicking things off with the pensive “Block” and then “Reptile” off the hit record Starfish from 1988. “Toy Head” felt a bit rambling but included a solid rock jam to close it out and the underplayed or perhaps never played “Metropolis” off 1990’s Gold Afternoon Fix followed before the very prog rock “The Disillusionist” from 1992’s Priest = Aura.

The Church played two off their latest album Further Deeper out last year – “Laurel Canton” and “Miami” – and of course their smash “Under the Milky Way,” also from Starfish which didn’t capture the same magic as the album version, but pleased nonetheless.

As the opening act, the Church cut an abbreviated set, just nine songs, lasting an hour, much less than what’s usually a 20-plus song evening for them. Despite the short time-frame they managed to include a decent breadth of their catalogue including “You Took” the oldest track of the night from 1982’s The Blurred Crusade, the band’s second album.

Hailing from Australia, the Church formed in 1980, hit it big later that decade and then more or less fell off the radar in the United States though “Milky Way” still enjoys some airplay but mostly on “flashback lunches.” The band however has been quite prolific releasing nine albums in a seven year period to start the new millennium. They’ve got more than 20 studio albums to date and neither look nor sound like a band mailing in the remaining years of their career.

Unlike the Church, Psychedelic Furs haven’t done much work in the studio in years but continue to sustain a loyal following thanks to a number of smash hits from the 80s all instantly recognizable thanks to Richard Butler’s gravelly vocals. They efficiently carved through a 17-song set lasting nearly 90 minutes dedicating all their stage time to playing rather than making small talk with the audience. A little more than a “thanks” here and there and it was on to the next song.

Psychedelic Furs opened with “Heartbeat” and instantly it sounds like Butler’s already been singing for three hours. Actually he often sounds like he’s been up all night cheering his favorite sports team on and suddenly it’s time for stage duties. He’s out of tune, but he isn’t, he’s about to crack a note but he doesn’t. It all sounds, well, so perfect with the music.

“Mr. Jones” came next followed by the very 80s “Heaven” then the contemporary “There’s A World Outside” off 1991’s World Outside, the Furs’ last studio album.  “Love My Way” was the first of several audience favorites and radio hits, then the catchy “Little Miss World” a new song from an expected forthcoming album. The Furs also played “Heartbreak Beat” with a great bass up front and of course “Pretty in Pink.”

The anguishing “Wrong Train” a previously unreleased tract given life 15 years ago, got a bit cumbersome but the trippy “Highwire Days” from 1984”s Mirror Moves” bested the original.

Despite a nearly decade long break-up in the 1990s, the Furs reunited in 2000 with Butler and his brother Tim Butler on bass, at the helm. Mars Williams replaces original saxophonist Duncan Kilburn and he got plenty of stage time playing on most of the songs.

The Furs encored with “Sister Europe” and Sleep Comes Down” rather interesting choices considering the somewhat sluggish tempo for both songs. Both would have been well-served in the middle of the show and replaced with the main set closers of “Danger” a more upbeat and rocking song from 1982’s Forever Now and “Pretty in Pink” or one of the other popular  radio staples.

Most in attendance clearly were of the age that grew up with the band though there was diversity on both ends of the age spectrum. However, perhaps because of the general been-there-done-that age group with a lack of youthful exuberance or maybe it’s because it was a middle of the week show the audience wasn’t exactly a ballroom full of energy. And once the Furs started in on their final song sleep was indeed coming down.

 

Psychedelic Furs Setlist in Portland, OR (Crystal Ballroom)

 

  1. Heartbeat
  2. Jones
  3. Heaven
  4. There’s a World Outside
  5. Love My Way
  6. Little Miss World
  7. Until She Comes
  8. Susan’s Strange
  9. The Ghost in You
  10. Only You and I
  11. Wrong Train
  12. Heartbreak Beat
  13. Highwire Days
  14. Danger
  15. Pretty in Pink
  16. Sister Europe
  17. Sleep Comes Down

 

The Church Setlist in Portland, OR (Crystal Ballroom)

  1. Block
  2. Reptile
  3. Toy Head
  4. Metropolis
  5. The Disillusionist
  6. Laurel Canyon
  7. You Took
  8. Under the Milky Way
  9. Miami

Written By: AndrewT