Fan-smooching Psychedelic Furs satisfy at the State

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Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler at the State Theatre

During last night's rendition of "Ghost in You," Richard Butler, the Psychedelic Furs' always-smiling, gyrating, raspy-voiced frontman, was suddenly approached by an attractive salt-and-pepper-haired woman he locked eyes with just moments earlier.

The two briefly kissed on the lips, and both beamed as they separated.

It was a cute moment that left the crowd buzzing, even as they filed out of the State Theatre about an hour later. It also stands out as one of the few moments of unexpected spontaneity during the Furs' set.

Twenty-five years removed from the last time they dropped new material, the British rockers have become a tribute band to themselves, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Butler and company clearly still enjoy playing tight-sounding renditions of catchy post-punk classics like "Ghost in You," "Heaven," and "Pretty in Pink" just as much as their fans love hearing them.

And so while there may not have been a lot of surprises last night, the Furs nonetheless put forth a thoroughly satisfying performance. The lineup, which has been the same each of the three times the Furs have come to Minneapolis in recent years, knows the material inside and out, yet manages to sound fresh and engaged ripping through roughly two hours' worth of bangers that hold up 30 years later as still sounding way ahead of their time.

If you liked those songs, you loved last night's show. If you don't ... well, then you almost certainly weren't there anyway.

And that kiss? While the speculation in the crowd was that it was an example of a rock star forging a fleeting connection with a star-struck fan who was simply bold enough to act on the connection, the woman involved later told me that she's actually Butler's girlfriend.

"But he's never done anything like that before," she said.

Who says nothing new happens at Psychedelic Furs shows circa 2015?

Following the First Avenue roof collapse, this show was moved from the Furs' usual Minneapolis stomping grounds to the State.

While the classy confines of the State were a cool setting for the Furs' relatively classy version of (now classic) rock 'n' roll, the theater's seats did little more than get in the way — fans stood the entire time — and folks in the theater's pit area had to tolerate muddy sound quality, as the speaker banks were behind us.

On the plus side, the 50 or so early arriving fans who made it into the pit got to enjoy plenty of elbow room and the spectacle of Asia Security guards eying up eager Furs fans to determine if they had a legitimate claim to make their way to that prime location. (Most didn't, but nonetheless made their best cases before being rebuffed.)

Late in the show, one of the guards, to his credit, let two young Furs fans who were too short to see much of anything over the crowd into the pit, where they made their way to a position right in front of the stage. The youngsters were an anomaly among a three-quarters full house that understandably skewed toward the older end of the age spectrum.

Music aside, it's always great to see the enthusiasm Butler and company bring to performing songs that must be almost as familiar for them as eating and breathing. The Furs are a band that make no bones about engaging fans and the fact they're having fun on stage, and each time I've seen them the positives vibes emanating from the band make their way into the crowd.

It's timeless stuff, and even if they never record another new song, here's to hoping the Furs make it back to Minneapolis many more times.

Critic's bias: Mirror Moves is one of my favorite albums ever. If there's a better opening trifecta of tunes than "Ghost in You," "Here Come Cowboys," and "Heaven" in rock 'n' roll history I haven't heard it, and there's nary a weak track on that highly re-listenable masterpiece.

The Furs' driving grooves, catchy melodies, and Butler's smart lyrics were a key component of my soundtrack while I traveled in Asia back in 2009. I've been a huge Furs fan ever since I stumbled across Mirror Moves a year or two before then, and I now make a point of seeing them every time they come to town.

Thoughts on the opener: The Church, whose jangly, wall-of-guitar sound reminded me of an older, British version of the War on Drugs. I wasn't familiar with them before last night, but based on the enthusiastic crowd response to many of their tunes, a good proportion of people in attendance were. I enjoyed their set, which was a nice appetizer for the Furs.

Random notebook dump: Richard Butler looks a little bit like Al Franken.

Setlist:

Heartbeat

Mr. Jones

Heaven

There's a World Outside

Love My Way

Little Miss World

Until She Comes

Susan's Strange

Ghost in You

Only You and I

Danger

Heartbreak Beat

Highwire Days

Wrong Train

Pretty in Pink

Sister Europe [encore]

Sleep Comes down [encore]


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