Date / Venue: Friday October 26th, 2018 - Max Watts, Melbourne
One could have been forgiven for thinking that there was a funeral in the bows of Max Watts in Melbourne last night. The crowd queuing along the street was in all their finest black mourning clothes.
But none were queuing to mourn, instead the opposite. We were all here to celebrate the man that has often been given the title of ‘Godfather of Goth,’ Peter Murphy. The anticipation was palpable – Murphy, along with his band, was set to play the first Bauhaus album In The Flat Field, marking its 40th anniversary, in full.
Local act Venetian Blinds (made up from members of Bitch Diesel and Liam Linley and the Louvers) opened the evening, playing their self-described ‘music for vampires to drive to’ to the steadily filling room. Their slightly ethereal sound was perfect for the night, and the crowd swayed and cheered as they finished their set. They have currently only released one single, but they’re definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Venetian Blinds were followed by Bitumen, another local act, and their powerful post-industrial sound effortlessly engulfed the room. Singer Kate Binning stalked the stage as the band played, occasionally screaming directly at the front row, who happily danced and gestured right back at her. By the end of their almost too short set Max Watts was packed tight, and the audience not so patiently awaiting the main act.
The room went dark, voices briefly hushed and then erupted as Marc Slutsky (drums) Mark Gemini Thwaite (guitar), and the original Bauhaus member David J (bass) took their positions on stage, clearly enjoying the riotous applause from the crowd which only got louder as Peter Murphy emerged from the shadows, a black coat dramatically spinning around him.
Barely a second was taken before they launched headfirst into Double Dare. Murphy’s baritone is just as strong as it ever was, the frontman moving from side to side of the stage, throwing his body into the music and interacting with his devoted audience.
The songs followed each other quickly with barely a pause between them, the band giving the audience everything they had. As Murphy sung and danced,contouring his body to the sinuous music, David J commanded his own side of the stage with dark sunglasses that never left his face, Bass slung low as he slowly strolled in loose circles.
In The Flat Field is a remarkable album that combines a breadth of different sounds and moods to create a dark, writhing creature that truly came to life on the Max Watts stage, the audience devouring it all. Many had waited a lifetime to see the album played like this and they certainly did not disappoint.
Stigmata Matyrwas met with unsurprising cheers and a small pit of bodies formed in the center of the crowd, the audience feeding off the emotions in the room. Nerves closed the first portion of the set, Murphy and Co. slinking off stage as the audience clambered for more.
We didn’t have to wait long, Murphy emerging in a red scarf to play a glorious rendition of Burning from the Inside, once again giving himself over to the theatrics of the night.
Murphy was clearly in a good-humored mood, occasionally sharing his sharp wit with the audience and at one point telling us all that his son was there helping them, making the tour a family event.
A long, bat-like cape was donned for the classic Bela Lugosi’s Dead and Murphy used it to its full dramatic capabilities, spinning it as the audience chanted “Undead, undead, undead” right back at him in time. You could almost feel the floor moving as we all danced to what is most likely the most beloved Bauhaus song.
Barely giving the audience a second to recover while Murphy once again changed outfits (this time into a shorter black jacket from the original one at the beginning of the night) before launching into She’s in Parties, Murphy giving us his all with intricate footwork and voice.
The main set was finished with a riotous Dark Entries, the band quickly returning for a searing encore of Severance, a Dead Can Dance cover that Murphy has been playing live for years before they once again left the stage, thanking the crowd.
The audience however wasn’t content with just one encore, cheers and shouts soon summoning the men back to us where they truly delivered, playing covers of T. Rex’s Telegram Sam and Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, ending a truly fantastic night on a high note, everyone dancing and singing the lyrics back at the stage.
As the crowd slowly made their way up the stairs leaving the venue, dazed and euphoric, it was clear that while Bela Lugosi may be dead Melbourne’s love for Peter Murphy surely isn’t.
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