Concert Review: Peter Murphy

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By Labretta Suede

Artist: Peter Murphy

Date / Venue: Saturday October 20th, 2018 - The Powerstation, Auckland

After touring the world with my own musical project and knowing just what goes into each show, it was refreshing to be standing as an audience member in front of the legendary performer and vocalist Peter Murphy, both of us fresh back in NZ. It also made me realise just how long it had been since I'd seen a British band. Oh yeah, small talk stinks.

Goth’s godfather, high camp king, arrived on stage strutting and pacing with the aplomb of a Shakespearean thespian. Summoning us all to his call with a noticeable number of debutante goths or rather emo's in the crowd to add to his cloak.  It was a very good looking crowd one must admit, both young and old. Even he acknowledged the beauty with his playfully suggestive repertoire, most refreshing in a world of unbearable PCism gone mad. Although, being British he couldn't help but stop and mention the footy, with a bit of 'oi' and 'mate' thrown in. I quickly tuned that out, being a non-sport person. I continued to be lured by this charming witty fellow flapping his bat wings and taking me back to my teens. It was somewhat amusing to watch Peter's melodrama unfold and to watch him connect with his fans. Once in character, he even caused me to have to look away when he sang to me. Yes, yes, he even unlocked the fan girl in me for a moment.

It took a little minute to get into their stride, with a wee sound issue to do with an inner ear monitor but they ventured on... into the ruby celebration of debut album 'In the Flat Fields'.

By 'God in Alcove,' the third song in, the crowd sing along begins. Our king relaxed into his pantomime theatrics, with blond, velvet dinner jacket and shades wearing David J by his side on bass, thumping fuzzed out bass lines that pulsated into everybody's rhythm bones. Goths do like to sway a lot.

Now, with both co-founders of Bauhaus on this 40th anniversary tour in good stead, I was excited to see what this line-up of players would offer.

Marc Slutsky from NYC on drums was raised on 80's pop and has even backed Kylie Minogue. He performed exceptionally, pushing out time signatures that crossed all kinds of chronological spheres. The drummer sure makes the band and he was fascinating to be entranced by.

Mark Gemini Thwaite commonly known as MGT has been with Peter Murphy and Bauhaus since 2005. His effortless guitar work (though not sure I was completely thrilled by its tone) is no stranger to the goth underbelly, having been a staple member in The Mission over the years. His performance resume is outstanding, from Ministry to Tricky (worth a google, it's pretty cool).

This not being a reunion of Bauhaus (hence maybe why he skipped the being lowered upside down like a bat arrival to stage) was still a pretty amazing rendition of Bauhaus.

Upward foot lighting, crowns, leather pants, jangly chains, blood red scarves,melodic solos and even a small outfit change to a shorter jacket (all the better to stroll and shimmy in) the bat was in flight. Peter had set the pace and the mise en scène, driving the force of each song stronger and stronger as they played through the album. His soothing deep vocals and flawless mic techniques backed by faultless musicianship really began to build the audience’s expectations. Stand out performances of 'She's In Parties' (outstanding vocals), 'Dark Entries,' 'St Vitus Dance' and'Nerves' before darkeningBela's doors.

The anthem song that kicked off the whole goth genre in 1979, 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' which was recorded live in just one take.

We see Peter shuffling out the back in the darkness and out come the toys. The song got the full treatment with Peter's creepy delay effect units sounding away as he twiddled knobs, the crowd yelling and emoting word for word. That beautiful melding of experimental song structure, primitive rock n roll verses electronica. Yum! We were all vampires for a moment. Ageless, fearless and beautiful.

Now that audience was peaking and politely moshing away, out comes the wonderful version of 'Severance,' originally by one of Melbourne's finest bands Dead Can Dance. All this, while standing next to a non-Bauhaus fan that I dragged along. Who surprisingly enjoyed the show and also helped me kick off the foot stomping to invite the encore we had all been waiting for. The covers of T-Rex's 'Telegram Sam' and David Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust.'  They were heavy and chunky and even my non-fan counterpart enjoyed them thoroughly. I was embraced and sung to by so many in the crowd and was glad I got to see this 40th Anniversary tour. This time I didn't have to runaway from a bunch of skinheads waiting to pick on the goth immediately after the gig. They all seemed to be indoors enjoying it.

My how times have changed.