Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the formation of Bauhaus, vocalist Peter Murphy and bass player David J teamed up to perform the band’s debut album, In A Flat Field, in its entirety at Auckland’s Powerstation.
While the cynical might view this as a just another nostalgia-driven money grab, to this observer, the show seemed like something more. With goths of all ages dressed in their finery, the Powerstation had the air of celebration, not necessarily of a 40-year-old band, but of a music and time and attitude that has always been on the fringe, but nonetheless has been highly influential in much of the music and art that came afterward.
It is also important to note that many of the folks who feel a kinship to the music of Bauhaus, along with say, Joy Division, The Cure or Sisters Of Mercy, often feel like outsiders themselves, so it was all the more celebratory to have a thousand or so of these folks together in one place, to share this experience.
Ok, now let’s get down to the music.
First of all, Peter Murphy and David J were accompanied by guitarist Mark Thwaite (a long time Murphy collaborator) and drummer Marc Slutsky. So, no, this was not Bauhaus, but its probably as close as we’re going to get since they split rather acrimoniously after their last reunion about a decade ago.
There was no mystery about how the evening would begin. The quartet took the stage to some appropriately moody lighting and soon the room was filled with the loud shards of guitar riffs that kicked off Double Dare, the opening track to In A Flat Field.
Murphy was in strong voice from the get-go, although David J’s bass was frustratingly low in the mix for the first few songs. Fortunately, that problem was soon rectified. Also fortunate was the strong drumming from Slutsky, who seemed to propel the band to rock harder than I remember Bauhaus ever sounding.
As the bass lines emerged from the mix and the guitar riffs rocker harder, Murphy seemed to gain energy from the band and from the audience. They seemed to race through the nine songs that comprised In A Flat Field, with closing tune Nerves sounding like the unholy union between Black Sabbath and The Spiders From Mars.
After a brief pause, the band proceeded to plumb the depths of the Bauhaus catalogue… and this is where things got interesting.
Murphy himself managed to tread a fine line between paying tribute to his past while not taking himself too seriously. He threw in plenty of theatrical moves and poses, many with the aid of his scarf.
Then there were his bon mots in between songs.
“Harder than any man here, more beautiful than any woman”, he claimed after Burning From The Inside, then mumbling something about “New Zealand blokes” he finally said, “fuck them”.
He made further comments to the NZ rugby culture, even going as far as telling the crowd, “I want four girls and three guys and a rugby ball in my hotel room” .
I’m not sure what he had in mind, but I don’t think he was planning on working on his scrum technique.
Finally, during the encore, he noted, “This is great, all these blokes are really into it”.
So, yes, Peter Murphy looked and acted like a rock star. Something I found extremely refreshing.
And fortunately the music backed up his attitude with tunes like She’s In Parties, Dark Entries and, of course, Bela Lugosi’s Dead forcing even the staunchest goth to move to the music.
Encores included a stately version of Dead Can Dance’s Severance and the “glam slam” of Telegram Sam and Ziggy Stardust.
Afterwards, the mostly-black clad crowd poured out onto Mt Eden Road, most almost beaming with an otherworldly glow after grooving to the godfathers of goth.
Now, back to your belfries, you lot.
More images from the incredible night can be found in the photo gallery further below including ones for the Daffodils who opened for the show.
Peter Murphy + David J set list:
- Double Dare
- In The Flat Field
- A God In An Alcove
- The Spy In The Cab
- Small Talk Stinks
- St Vitus Dance
- Stigmata Martyr
- Burning From The Inside
- Silent Hedges
- Bela Lugosi’s Dead
- She’s In Parties
- Terror Couple Kill Colonel
- The Passion Of Lovers
- Dark Entries
- Telegram Sam
- Ziggy Stardust