There are few singers as influential on goth as Peter Murphy: Perhaps Siouxsie Sioux, Ian Curtis, Nick Cave and to a lesser extend Robert Smith, Al Jourgensen and maybe Marilyn Manson.
What these artists have in common is less musical style and more mood and dark dress. Some specialize in ominous, even beautiful melodies, while others just plain heavy. All, for the most part, share a propensity for heavy black eyeliner. The second sold out night of Murphy's L.A. tour stop at the Fonda Theatre on Saturday had lots of makeup, but more importantly, it had its share of both melodic magnificence and instrumental heaviness.
The tour is called “Mr. Moonlight — 35 Years of Bauhaus” and the set was classics-heavy. Of course, Bauhaus hasn't played together since the 2006 reunion shows and record, and the contentious relationship between former mates Daniel Ash, David J. and Kevin Haskins has been well-documented. But really, the band always has had a palpable tension, even in its beginnings. It gave their dramatic songs a dangerous quality. Murphy, with his exquisite bone structure and alluringly deep vocals was always the focal point, but the others had their own attention-grabbing mystique as well.
On Saturday, Murphy's backing band did a nice job of re-creating the pummeling yet cinematic Bauhaus sound. Murphy's prancing, posing, playing, and crooning made for a fiendish, gorgeously lit tour de force. If his DUI arrest a few months ago had fans wondering if he'd lost it, that was shown not to be the case.
His vocals sound exactly the same as they always have, something many singers who have been doing it for this long cannot claim. Favorites such as “Flat Field,” “Bela Lagosi Is Dead,” and “Dark Entries,” were everything they should've been, both visually and sonically. There were a few weird moments in the set: a little boy took the stage with Murphy for a number (not clear if he was a fan, or some relation) and during the encore a woman joined him on stage for an exotic dance. Both didn't quite fit with the gloomy theatricality Murphy was offering. To be fair, it must be hard to share a stage with someone so charismatic.
It was announced that Murphy would be playing tracks from his new record — Lion, due next year — at the beginning of the show, but for fans the magic was clearly in the old stuff. Murphy didn't much change up the old Bauhaus numbers, and that was wise. For the fiendy faithful (especially the older set, which was out in full black regalia at the Fonda), nostalgia is a huge part of the appeal. Even if we never see another full-blown Bauhaus reunion, Murphy gets it and he's still got it too. This Goth god's career is far from dead.
Set list below:
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