Peter Murphy (celebrating 40 years of Bauhaus): Live review | The Zoo | Thursday 25 October 2018

Over the past four decades, goth-rock Illuminati Bauhaus have burnt a searing imprint into the darker end of the alternative music spectrum, their indelible shadow having been countlessly approximated but rarely bettered. While the original line up of the band have sadly splintered, this show sees the reuniting of two of its key forces, darkly iconic front man Peter Murphy and legendary bass wielding side kick David J, coming together for a special run of 40 year ‘ruby anniversary’ shows to commemorate the band’s ongoing legacy.

As an added fillip, for the opening portion of tonight’s performance we’re treated to a run through of Bauhaus’ debut 1980 release, the ageless ‘In The Flat Field’. The band enter the eerily lit stage to a heroes welcome from the almost capacity audience. As an opening 1-2 salvo, the lurching tribal thud of ‘Double Dare’ and the urgent, darkly driving ‘In The Flat Field’ lay down a powerful upfront statement of intent, immediately sucking the assembled faithful, grizzled goth veterans and young dark wave disciples alike, into giddy rapture.

Murphy makes for a captivating ringmaster throughout, his deep, melodramatic vocal phrasings still delivering a powerful clout after all these years, to go with his now elder statesman appearance, to this reviewer aptly channeling a touch of Mr Hammer House Dracula himself, Christopher Lee. He’s also an adept hand at playing the audience without descending into cheesy clique, at times prowling the stage and stepping forward to embrace the adulation radiating back, at other times gazing in transfixed wonderment skyward (or even disappearing off stage altogether at one point.)

Meanwhile David J, with his darkly mesmerizing bass runs and cool as fuck, sunglasses at night persona, draws regular adulation from all in the room. During moody creeper ‘The Spy In The Cab’, he ably delivers the sporadic, one note ‘sonar ping’ sound effect that pulses sporadically throughout the song, as Murphy intones and hollers, the song playing like a doomed submarine slowly descending into the murky depths.

‘St Vitus Dance’ raises the dead with it’s eerily insistent pound, while ‘Stigmata Martyr’ is masterfully hammered home in all of it’s steadily creeping paranoia, a dark chant from the abyss.

And before we know it we’ve descended the tomb steps and into the realms of an extended encore, Murphy and cohortss resurrecting a choice selection from the rest of the Bauhaus back catalogue. And as the entry to the sarcophagus is creakily pried open, the malevolent, flagship goth-statement that is ‘Bella Lugosi’s Dead’ murkily emerges, a bat-like, tightly wound opus of sharp tension and dynamics, it’s atmospheric nine plus minutes being consumed with feverish relish by all in the room.

While this moment remains largely untouchable, the anthemic goth-rock of Dark Entries raises the bats skywards, drawing down the curtains in frantic fashion. The crowd hang back for more, with the unfulfilled lure of their famed covers of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and T Rex’s ‘Telegram Sam’ hanging tantalizingly in the air. But alas, the bats have left the belfry and we shall gratefully make do with what we have witnessed, a darkly majestic triumph.

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