Dateline – DETROIT
Squeeze and Psychedelic Furs
23 September 2023
My daughter and I ventured to The Fillmore in Detroit to catch Squeeze and the Psychedelic Furs, and to share a bit of my glorious past. It was an unusually sunny and warm early fall evening as we joined the line that wrapped around the theater (they very nearly sold out the 3,000 max capacity). It was fun people watching as we waited. Most were around my age (40 years out of high school), but there were quite a few younger people as well checking out these new-wave geezers.
I wasn’t about to pay for a $25 “fast pass” at the door, but they finally allowed the rest of us into the Fillmore’s wonderfully ornate lobby. We settled into a spot about 25 feet from centerstage. I was excited to see if these chaps could still bring it – they did not disappoint.
The Psychedelic Furs hit the stage first and led off with a couple of songs from their 1981 release Talk Talk Talk, starting with a powerful rendition of “Into You Like a Train,” that featured Richard Butler prowling the stage with the same confidence and charisma he had when the song was originally released.
Next on the setlist were a few newer songs from their most recent release, 2020’s Made of Rain. I especially liked “This Will Never Be Like Love,” which came later in the show. I actually liked all the new songs I heard, including “Wrong Train” and “You’ll Be Mine.” I found it noteworthy that the new material held up quite well alongside classic Furs hits like “The Ghost in You” and “Love My Way.”
Richard Butler’s voice sounded as strong and gravelly as it did in the mid-80s, and the band sounded great. Saxophonist Mars Williams was particularly fun to follow as he marched across the stage adding nuance to songs like “President Gas” and “Sister Europe.” They played for a solid, energetic 75 minutes, punctuating their set with crowd-pleasing hits like “Pretty in Pink” and “Heartbreak Beat.”
Squeeze took over in due course, electrifying the crowd with their polished and fast-paced set. They blasted off with “Take Me I’m Yours,” “Hourglass” and “Up the Junction” in rapid succession. Glenn Tilbrook ripped one of many guitar solos at the end of “Hourglass,” escalating the intensity of the evening as the band dropped hook after hook for an hour and a half.
They tore through seven songs at a brisk pace, until Mr. Tilbrook slowed things down with a soulful take on “Vanity Fair” that featured an awesome pedal effect, creating a haunting resonance. “Slap and Tickle” was another highlight, with keyboardist Stephen Large and drummer Simon Hanson driving the jam until Tilbrook took the wheel again, ripping another nasty guitar solo. They satisfied the hit-hungry crowd, playing all the old favorites, including “If I Didn’t Love You,” “Goodbye Girl,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” and “Cool for Cats.”
By the time the band got to “Tempted” in the set, the crowd was more than primed to sing the first chorus acapella before the band took over and unleashed the full arrangement. The coolest part of the show came at the end when “Black Coffee in Bed” was followed by “Is That Love” and then reprised, culminating in Tilbrook leading the audience in a call-and-response singalong to end the show.
The last time I had the good fortune of seeing Squeeze live was in the early ’80s, but on this pleasant evening in Detroit, it truly felt as if no time had passed at all. What a treat to witness a band still in top form so many years on. My daughter’s feet were killing her by the end, but she seemed to enjoy watching the old codgers behave like they were still her age. “Pulling muscles” indeed.