‘Where are all the goths?’ I find myself asking this question at practically every show I attend. Having romanticised the subculture since the 90s, its relatively minimal presence now is something of a saddening affair. Thankfully, this performance by the Godfather of Goth, Peter Murphy, is one big, black exception.
Opening the night were Venetian Blinds and Bitumen. I didn’t see Venetian Blinds, and only caught a few cursory glances of Bitumen as I listened to the latter few songs of their set. Despite only minor interaction, I later bought Bitumen’s vinyl from the merch table, so make of that what you will.
One peculiarity I noticed was the aversion to labelling this a Bauhaus tour. This fact despite having both Peter Murphy and founding bass player David J onboard, effectively 50% of the original lineup on what is effectively a classic album tour for Bauhaus’s In the Flat Field. If indeed an active avoidance of fraudulence, any notion of inauthenticity was further suppressed by the band’s devoted onstage performance.
Hiding behind clouds of smoke, Peter Murphy glided on stage right on cue for the album’s accusatory opening lyric ‘I dare you to be real’. With his pointed finger as a weapon, Murphy barked out the track’s confrontational lyrics with an echo of restrained delight throbbing from the audience.
Moving through In the Flat Field’s natural track progression, it was quickly apparent this was not the cheap fetishism of nostalgia assigned to so many of today’s classic album tours. With the group resistant to signs of fatigue and a sound that’s gone full circle into peak relevance, at 40 years of age the effects of ageing have been particularly kind to Bauhaus. Donning gold chains and numerous shades of black, Murphy pranced around the stage with a vitality normally disassociated with 6 decades of existence.
Moving beyond In the Flat Field and onto fan favourite and blueprint of gothic rock, Bela Lugosi’s Dead, the classic vampiric cape was embraced with spread wings. To the audience’s absolute delight, Burning from the Inside’s bouncing bass line had Murphy’s crotch thrusting and chest wiggling, movements far beyond the seductive parameters set for most 61 year olds.
Murphy’s showmanship extended through the guitar, flute, mini-keyboard and at one point a megaphone. Although his token multi-instrumentation couldn’t overshadow the all-encompassing bass lines of David J. In black shades and suitably stationary, David J’s rumbling bass commanded patches of screeched guitar and drove repetitive drum patterns while plugging the unoccupied sonic hollow of Bauhaus’ classic brand of post-punk.
Climaxing and concluding with a second encore and Bowie’s classic, Ziggy Stardust, the bucket list evening reached the nostalgic highs and gothic lows that we crave, but so many other heroes of yesteryear fall short of.