Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth 3.10.19

The Pyramids Centre – the venue

The Pyramids Centre is on the sea front at Southsea and boasts “fun leisure pools, funky flumes, wacky waves, pool inflatables and a three-level soft play adventure world filled with mazes, climbing nets and ball pits”. Perfect for a King Kurt gig maybe but is this the right place?

The not so ancient
Pyramids of Portsmouth

In the venue pyramid there is what I thought beforevwas a sports hall but it is carpeted (was it before) – new pyramid design carpet – chewing gum ban in place (cloakroom tickets issued for every pack found). This is tonight’s venue. It holds 1200 and is unsurprisingly square given the pyramid building thing.

Doors open. Inside the pyramid.
New pyramid themed carpet inspires chewing gum ban

Doesn’t sound that inviting does it but this complex was opened in 1988 in a move to make Portsmouth more of a leisure destination. The leisure centre works and bands came to play. It remains a convenient popular venue on the middle tour circuit an its relatively short history (by venues’ standards) has included Hawkwind, Muse, Kasabian, Radiohead, and The Prodigy. I’ve been here previously, not for several years until tonight’s ‘Furs’ gig, to see The Stranglers, Shed Seven and Killing Joke.

I prefer this to the O2 branded Southampton Guildhall echo chamber. There is free evening on street parking around on the wide roads of Southsea Common. Trains to Portsmouth Harbour or Fratton do mean a bus, taxi or long walk though. Excellent foodie pub The Florence Arms, Florence Road, is a few hundred yards away or there is the more prominent Jolly Sailor. The bonus is views of the Isle of Wight and a busy stretch of The Solent from The Esplanade – if you get there in the light (which we did, before visiting The Florence). Always tempted to stay over when in Portsmouth as it’s a bit of hack back to Poole on a ‘school night’. No choice this time. On to the gig.

The Wendy James Band featuring… Wendy James!

Wendy James
of Transvision Vamp fame

Tonight’s support is The Wendy James Band, that’s Wendy James of late 80s post punk popsters Transvision Vamp, with…a band, a good band, a really good set of musicians, but of course Wendy James is what this is about – old Transvision Vamp hits – and they were hits – remember…. ‘Tell That Girl to Shut Up’ , ‘Baby I Don’t Care’, ‘I Want Your Love’? – along with some more recent solo material. This is a really good choice for support on the tour – a bonus. I’ll leave it there for now as there’s another date on the tour I’ll be at.

My Furs experiences

My Psychedelic Furs listening started while at school. I picked up the first album, on cassette, from the sale bin at Sunbury Cross library, so it had already been played to the point of near destruction I guess. The Furs seem to have been my cassette fetish. Obviously I’ve had to buy stuff all over again at the turn of the century due to technological difficulties and my audio modernisation program.

Although at the time I was aware that the Psychedelic Furs were ‘from London’ and lead singer and songwriter Richard Butler was at art school somewhere nearby, I only recently discovered that he was born in Kingston, as I was. His brother, bassist Tim, was born in Teddington. These guys must have lived around me and my school mates….I’ll find out where at some point. Perhaps it was all too suburban to mention. After a few albums, in 1982 they were off to America anyway and there they stayed. Meanwhile I returned to Sunbury Cross library to buy their third album, Forever Now, from the used items sale bin.

The Furs – cassette years

Richard Butler is a pretty successful artist (painter) and has been for many years, now living in New York. Portraits of others in which he portrays himself seem to be his thing. I found this piece gave a good insight:

I managed to see The Furs twice, in the Midlands, before they stopped touring for eight years in 1992. Being U.S. based for so long opportunities haven’t come that often.

Birmingham Hummingbird 1990
Leicester Polytechnic 1991

The official video for the wonderful ‘Sister Europe’:

After mainly touring in America, where they were based, I was keen to get to see them and went to Kentish Town Forum with my mate Chris (CMe) for the Talk Talk Talk album in full and more, with all those wonderful trademark hand gestures from Butler R (and my mate Chris), acting out all the lyrics.

Two years ago my Furs appreciation was still re-booming and I went to two gigs on their October tour, at the small O2 place in Bristol and back at the Forum in London for another evening of hand gestures from Butler…and my mate Chris.

Indulgence over with. Some pics from tonight’s gig. 😎

Live in Portsmouth 3.10.19

The Furs at Portsmouth Pyramids

Not a sell out tonight in Portsmouth. A bit of room to move about and get to the two bars.

I presume the set will be similar throughout the tour. It draws from their albums through the decades. There are few bands where I can listen to the whole set and know every song by name – there was one I didn’t know the name of. I think more analysis and comparison when I’ve been to the London gig at the end of the tour. It was all there though: Sister Europe, President Gas, Dumb Waiters, Into You Like a Train, Love My Way, of course the predictable Pretty in Pink, Heaven and last was India as an encore.

Gesturing fully up to strength – lyrics in mime. No chat, just artistic gestures. Saxophone and oboe magnificent. Some in your face bass from Tim Butler, stalking the stage.

‘Heaven’ ? …maybe. Songs in mime by Richard Butler
Must be ‘Sleep Comes Down’

All home happy on a rainy Thursday night.

One test is which song do you wake up ‘singing’ around the house to while getting ready for work the next day, in a rasping voice….mine was ‘Heaven’.

Here’s a video of it, with lyrics, to have a singalong to:

I caught up with both bands again later on the tour in London:

Published by ivaninblack

Still wild about live music - bands - gigs - festivals - after 42 years at it. All photos have been snapped by me or I will point out otherwise - I'll even own up to any blurry mobile phone ones. If gigaholic is a phrase then in recent years I think I've become one.

Join the Conversation


  1. Pyramids sound interesting.
    Jeeps re the Furs. Flashback city. Thanks for the links.
    I think you should be getting into these gigs for free or discounted with your press pass.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: