Peter Murphy @ The Gov, Adelaide 22/10/2018
Competing with the chatter of a generally inattentive scattered audience in attendance, the support act of Adelaide duo Mule (guitar, vocals, organ) played an able set of seeming wyrd folk and definitely caught my ear as a band to follow, although a smaller, less lit venue would be more appropriate for their style.
The main act of Peter Murphy and David J walked on stage to pick up their instruments and David J called the audience to attention with the accidental-sounding bass strum the intro to Double Dare which opens the debut Bauhaus album from close to thirty eight years ago. In his trademark sunglasses David J looks like Dr Who’s Peter Capaldi and occasionally Queen’s Roger Taylor which is fitting considering comments Peter Murphy makes later when he tells himself to stop channelling Freddie Mercury and get on with playing the music during one of several monologue asides.
Peter Murphy’s current appearance sporting a prominent goatee beard similarly lends itself to pop culture allusions. In the first song of the set he looks like a thin haired Catweazle, like a mad homeless person calling out and screaming at nobody, pointing at nothing above and behind the audience. During the next few songs which follow the track listing of In The Flat Field, he poses theatrically and looks like some gothic version of William Shakespeare.
When he first addresses the audience, the first thing he says is, “It’s not time to talk yet. I don’t want to spoil the mystery”, joking about his speaking voice being a surprise to those who haven’t heard it before. He continues, dismissing groupies leading to a revelation of narcissistic longing for himself, although to an objective gaze he has seen better days (he is over sixty after all) and his current appearance does bear more similarity to an elderly Martin Landau from Ed Wood than the past youthful Peter Murphy that this Forty Years of Bauhaus Ruby Celebration is commemorating. The voice is still there and it is interesting to actually witness him performing his vocal inflections especially later during Bela Lugosi’s Dead when he slowly draws the microphone away from his mouth while repeating the refrain “Bela’s undead. Oh Bela” and in profile his tongue appears to curl and shrivel rhythmically like it is it’s own entity.
Along with David J on bass, guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite on guitar and drummer Marc Slutsky, Peter participates in the live instrumentation, fiddling with whatever instrument he is going to play next while the rest of the band play the current song to an outro and then into the next. He dons a guitar during St. Vitus Dance to play distortion and feedback, crouched at the back of the stage behind David J before returning centre stage for Stigmata Martyr and completing the In the Flat Field performance towards the end of Nerves by leaving and singing the his last couple of calls of the title from backstage.
There are a few moments when the band have finished before someone finally considers that a smoke machine might be appropriate and the band recommence with a further selection of songs from the Bauhaus back catalogue starting with Burning from the Inside. Peter Murphy is now wearing a red scarf and a shirt that is falling apart at the seams, held together in places by safety pins. Apart from appearing “punk”, he is channelling David Bowie replete with shoulder and hip dance moves matching the funky bridge that could have been lifted from Bowie’s output circa 1982. What follows is an exceptional Silent Hedges before the aforementioned Bela Lugosi’s Dead during which he continues his instrumental participation by “playing” an effects pedal on a music lectern.
This sequence of songs including She’s In Parties and Kick In The Eye were performed in a style that it would be fair to describe as reggae-goth and were supplemented by Peter Murphy’s superfluous melodica playing and a contribution on drum pads on the drum riser at the back of the stage. To an audience request for Final Solution (a cover of a Pere Ubu song), he responds, “Yeah, I’ll do that I think”, but then the band proceed to perform Passion of Lovers, before the last song of the set, Dark Entries. The band return after a few minutes for the sole encore of the Dead Can Dance cover Severance. Although a second encore is discovered on a set list salvaged from the stage which includes further covers of Telegram Sam, Ziggy Stardust and early b-side Crowds, unfortunately the band do not return and for all concerned the show has come to an end.
Live Review by Jason Leigh