Bauhaus, as I have mentioned numerous times in this blog are (along with the outstanding Sisters of Mercy) the founding members of Goth. Sure, some goth bands pre-dated them (UK Decay, etc.) but Bauhaus and the Sisters crystallised the sound, and image, of Goth. So when Peter Murphy annunced he was touring with his band performing only Bauhaus material – the Mr Moonlight Tour – I really didn’t know what to expect…
The show was a Tuesday night in Bristol, and it wasn’t very well attended – the upper floor of the Academy was closed entirely. The night opened with a “special gift” to the audience of a 10 minute montage of sepia-drenched promo video clips of tracks from Murphy’s coming LP (“Lion,” produced by Youth of Killing Joke). There didn’t seem to be much progress from Ninth (his last LP) and, alas, I don’t think Murphy will ever make a decent LP as long as he is not working with Ash and the Haskins brothers – Bauhaus’s brilliance was not a production thing, and not a vocal/cheekbone thing – it’s a song-writing thing, a collective thing.
To some degree, the bass and drums of Bauhaus are easier to recreate/replace than Danny Ash’s guitar, and it is interesting to see experienced guitarists play other peoples cult guitar lines. The new Sisters guitarists all sound like they are in a Metallica covers band (chug-chug-chug-chug), and Mark Thwaite (playing with Murphy) is obviously also heavily influenced by heavy rock/metal… but he does have pedigree:
Mark Gemini Thwaite (born in Birmingham, England, on 15 June 1965) has been the guitarist for a number of British rock bands and artists over the last two decades, including The Mission, Tricky, Peter Murphy, New Disease, Spear of Destiny, Theatre of Hate, Mob Research (with Paul Raven of Killing Joke), and Canadian band National Velvet.
(And while I’m at it, don’t forget Siouxsie’s recent performance, the guitar was also heavy!) In all cases this metal guitar approach is bizarre, as the signiture guitar sound for all these bands is scratchy, spidery guitar lines, not CHUG-CHUG-CHUG.
My fears were quickly allayed as the show was outstanding… not only did Thwaite perform admirably, but the bass player Emilio DiZefalo-China and drummer (don’t know who) were also outstanding. Murphy primped and preened around the stage (jacket on, jacket off, hand held light, mic stand thrown around, dramatic gestures to the poor soul doing the monitor mixes) and there was a surprising amount of chat…. He has definitiely lightened up, but man is he still fucking cool!
(the video is from the Bristol show, just about where we were standing)
Because there is no real tension in the band (this is Peter Murphy + band) he is the uncontested thin controller, conducting the proceedings with a constant dramatic pomp (even setting the tempo for Hollow Hills by waving his light around).
What is more interesting is that, when I’ve seen Bauhaus live (and on the live clips) there is a frantic nature to the way they all play – like they are at the edge of their (technical) capabilities, but they’re gonna go for an extra 20% anyway because that is rock and roll! These players are playing well within their comfort zones so it is like listening to the BEST ever Bauhaus covers band (which technically is what it is), but in reality it was maybe just a little bit too perfect… but it was excellent and by the time they were playing out Dark Entries the atmosphere in the venue was electric.
- King Volcano, Kingdom’s Coming – get the 12 string acoustic and the tambourines out, were going Wicker Man! A couple of neo-folk oddities to whet the appetite
- Double Dare, In the Flat Field – now we’re off… the openers for their debut, but the guitar is a Gibson so the sound is really meaty and fat (thankfully no chugging)
- God in an Alcove – WHAT A TUNE, and Thwaite found the thinnest, scratchiest guitar sound possible!
- Boys – but go on, play Rosegarden Funeral of Sores and really make my day… excellent
- Kick in the Eye – the really funky, slightly slower version…
- Bela Lugosi’s Dead – very cool version… Murphy commented that “David J wrote that, can you imagine what it would have sounded like without my singing”
- The Passion of Lovers – fantastic fast version
- She’s in Parties – the long dub mix
- Stigmata Martyr, Dark Entries – very dark indeed, the tension’s rising as the tempo does
- Severance & encore: Hollow Hills – he closes with Dead Can Dance’s Severance (odd choice), but comes back with Hollow Hills (during which he starts talking and singing about Julie Andrews, and comments “WHo’d have thought that would become a golden oldie?”
- Telegram Sam, Ziggy Stardust – to close.
Good work Mr Murphy – now go and apologise to the others, again, and start work on a new LP… but don’t release this one until it is finished properly!
Setlist (as far as I can remember) – Peter Murphy live at the O2 Academy Bristol, 18th June 2013
- King Volcano
- Kingdom’s Coming
- Double Dare
- In the Flat Field
- God in an Alcove
- Kick in the Eye
- Bela Lugosi’s Dead
- The Passion of Lovers
- She’s in Parties
- Stigmata Martyr
- Dark Entries
- Hollow Hills (encore)
- Telegram Sam (encore)
- Ziggy Stardust (encore)