Friday, October 26, 2018

Show Time

Peter Murphy
PETER MURPHY - DAFFODILS - Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand - 20th October 2018
Way back in early 1983, BAUHAUS played the Gaumont, a theatre in my old home town of Ipswich, England. I really enjoyed the songs I had heard by the band (ie: the singles) and wanted to go. However, aged just 13, my folks wouldn’t let me. I think the fact they looked a ‘bit scary’ was the reason as, within six months, I got to see THIN LIZZY and soon after that, HAWKWIND. Let’s face it, with the amount of drugs in the air at a HAWKWIND gig, my 13 year old frame was rendered a tad stoned just by breathing! Ha!! Anyway, I always had a grudge about not seeing BAUHAUS, a band I got into more as I got older.
Several years later, BAUHAUS vocalist PETER MURPHY announces some New Zealand dates. Snag was, I was in Melbourne, Australia where he was also playing - but not while I was there. Everything conspired once again to miss a live BAUHAUS set.
That is, until August this year when I heard that MURPHY was returning to New Zealand not only to play a set celebrating the 40th anniversary of BAUHAUS with a full rendering of the debut album, ‘In A Flat Field’, but he’d have original bassist David J in the band. Tickets booked for this one - third time lucky!
The Powerstation is a great venue, among the best I have ever been to in fact. Always good sound, good atmosphere and the procession of black-clad individuals certainly seemed comfortable as we awaited the arrival of the headline act.
First up however was a local band named, DAFFODILS. They played about half-a-dozen numbers and got a decent response. Think a fusion of jingle-jangle a’la THE SMITHS (maybe that’s where the band’s name came from as Morrissey always had daffodils hanging out of his arse) with the more boisterous pop dynamics of ICICLE WORKS. They didn’t do much for me, although the drummer was very good. Of the songs, the only one I can recall is the band’s latest single, ‘A Leo Underwater’.
As promised, PETER MURPHY delivered the entire ‘In A Flat Field’ album from start to finish, naturally kicking off with ‘Double Dare’ - and that thunderous, distorted bass sound of David J’s was stunning at such a volume. I’ve always heard a great deal of violence in the music of BAUHAUS - something that is frequently overlooked due to the minimalist (pre)Goth stylings. This was the proof I needed - a stunning sound aided by guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite doing a decent job of Daniel Ash guitar noise and a stunning drummer in Marc Slutsky.
Peter Murphy band
‘In A Flat Field’ itself followed, keeping the intensity levels at a peak. MURPHY himself was in great form, that rich baritone loud and dominant. Now sporting a greying beard and balding pate, he looked a bit of a cat weasel-style character but still had a sense of intensity and regality about him. ‘The Spy In The Cab’ leaned on that stunning voice and MURPHY’s theatrical presence while the double hit of ‘St Vitus Dance’ and ‘Stigmata Martyr’ was one of the set’s highlights.
From there, it was one classic after another - ‘Burning From The Inside’, ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ (which received the biggest cheer of the evening - although given Murphy's appearance, it could've been retitled 'Vincent Price's Dead'!), ‘She’s In Parties’ and a stunning, brutal finale of ‘Passion Of Lovers’ and ‘Dark Entries’.
David J
As good as the band and MURPHY himself was, it was David J, with those sublime bass lines that are so pivotal to the success of these songs, who made the show for me. MURPHY was also in very jovial form, stating that he was, "Harder than any man there, and more beautiful than any woman," and taking the piss out of the New Zealand "blokes".
Of course, given the level of performance and the rapturous crowd, an encore was inevitable. I wasn’t expecting a take on DEAD CAN DANCE’s ‘Severance’ however - as good as it was. Sensing the show was over, several made for the exit - big mistake! Returning again, MURPHY announced a Glam double header in the form of T.REX’s ‘Telegram Sam’ and DAVID BOWIE’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’ which was uplifting and laden with genuine emotion.
Quite an exceptional gig it has to be said - and way better than I thought it would be. I feared MURPHY maybe over weight (as opposed to his rather lithe physique) and worse, have a broken voice whilst trying to revisit himself from 40 years ago. Not so; instead we got a theatrical, witty performance that still had combustible, violent streaks about it and a voice that still senders shivers down the spine.
OK parents - you can now rest easy - my grudge is over!