Live Shot: Neither Peter Murphy, Bauhaus, Nor Bela Lugosi Is Dead
English icon revives the pioneering UK goths’ 1980 debut
By Christina Garcia,
12:47PM, Fri. Feb. 1, 2019
In a theater so elegant it seems natural that mere mortals be restricted from entering for any profane purpose, Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy exploited the undead loophole in the Paramount Theatre’s contract on Thursday night to play a goth kid’s equivalent to a church revival.
London/Cologne trio Desert Mountain Tribe, an offshoot of Black Angels-influenced band Young Dead Men, kicked off the evening with heavy psych rock before the headliner took the stage at 9:30pm. Tribe’s 2018 LP, Om Parvat Mystery, was mastered by Black Angels and Jack White sound mix engineer Brett Orrison, who’s local, so the opener’s set could have doubled as a Levitation fest preview.
English singer Murphy, 61, pranced like a sequined goth rock peacock in performing Bauhaus’ debut In the Flat Field during its 40th anniversary tour. The godfather to post-punk revivalists Interpol and New Wave boomerangs She Wants Revenge bared his fangs while singing in a voice as deep and full as a fresh grave alongside original Bauhaus bassist David Haskins and a new drummer and guitarist.
Murphy controlled the full house from the get-go, his face starkly and literally in the front and center spotlight he’s employed since Bauhaus stunned with “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” the band’s take on the Jamaican diaspora-born dub scene of late-Seventies London. Swooping like a bat over our own fair city, Murphy and band recalled Birthday Party’s noisy aggression, Joy Division’s bleak lyrics, Siouxsie Sioux’s mysterious aura with dark wave attitude, and Iggy Pop-style vamping. When Haskins said, “I thought this was Dallas,” Murphy supported him through the crowd’s outbreak of boo’s, but refrained from any more violent behavior on the order of his December fight with security in Sweden after tossing bottles into the crowd. Post-punk indeed.
After the harsh Flat Field exercise, the band flushed the stage with red light and played additional songs from Bauhaus’ short-lived run as a group. “Burning From the Inside” from 1983’s LP of the same name, followed by “Silent Hedges” off ‘82s The Sky’s Gone Out, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” “She’s in Parties” from Burning, and “Kick in the Eye” from 81’s Mask all followed. As an encore, a cover of Dead Can Dance’s “Severence” felt like a continuation of Murphy’s short prayer (“like a gift”) for us to “get rid of [our] President.”