You do not get to see a great bat concert too often. Well here it is. A godfather of gothic culture, the old bat from Tony Scott’s film The Hunger, right from the end of 70s and beginning of 80s is back and on tour now. Peter Murphy and David J Haskins of the band Bauhaus performing in Belgrade Serbia may or may not be a great step of wonder in US but for us in Serbia this was an absolute wonder. End of 70s were very important for culture in general in the world, while music played very special role for us in communist Eastern Europe, and I am not talking about the music history only here. 40 years of anniversary celebration appropriately started with David J Haskins and Peter Murphy are set to embark on their Ruby Celebration Tour commemorating the 40th anniversary of their seminal gothic rock band Bauhaus. Sounds as a great news for us in Serbia. Eastern Europe welcomes the old bat with great tension and anticipation. Four decades after the founding of the Bauhaus group, singer Peter Murphy was able to launch a comprehensive and rather ambitious world tour with the help of David J, the original bass player of Bauhaus.
As part of this tour, Peter Murphy held a concert on November 9, 2018 in Belgrade’s nightclub Hangar, space originally designed for clubbing, which can accommodate several thousand people. The interest in the concert was further enhanced by the announced pre-group Desert Mountain Tribe – a three-year-old, promising indie group with two albums released. However, the Desert Mountain Tribe, canceled the concert for technical reasons, and as a pre-group, we heard Serbian gothic cover band The Gift known by the great covers of historically important gothic and indie bands.
After a pretty good performance of the songs originally sang by Editors, Iggy Pop, Placebo, The Cure, Bowie, INXS, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads etc, we were way to eager to finally hear Peter Murphy with the Bauhaus repertoire and actually live halfway through the original Bauhaus. After a “test” concert in Mexico this spring, and several concerts this summer in Europe, this tour officially launched as “40 Years of Bauhaus Ruby Celebration featuring David J”. In October, after Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, two concerts in Chile, three concerts in Australia and two concerts in Russia the tour continues throughout Europe by the end of this year, followed by a series of concerts for the US and several in Canada.
The concert finally started with Murphy coming out in a shorter black leather jacket with a gray beard and David J with distinctive sunglasses on. A powerful distortion on David’s bass and a recognizable sound of buzz was announced by “Double Dare”. The drummer was rhythmic while the crowd swung enthusiastically, but once the guitar in the background hit well-known sounds Peter Murphy started singing and got interrupted by a slight mistake on the mix-counter! “In the Flat Field” a powerful capacity voice began to intensify and the enjoyment of the concert could actually begin. The excellent rhythm sections and Murphy as the king of stage movements began to move on the stage, like a lizard or even so bat.
I remembered my first Bauhaus video in the 80s from the concert in the club that actually happened in the end of 70s and young Murphy who swang like Tarzan on the string. Although I had very bad copy of it I remember how important watching that felt. Well, he was a master of stage performing as a young man and he is a pretty good performer on stage now, after 40 years.
After “A God In An Alcove”, fast and rhythmic “Dive”, he followed the lighter “Spy In The Cab” in which Murphy showed he still had enviable vocal possibilities. After the multi-vocal “Small Talk Stinks” and psychedelic “St. Vitus Dance ” Murphy performed visually exceptionally attractive” Stigmata Martyr. ” He looked like a marionette of broken tails. “Nerves” gave a new opportunity to show the voice capabilities, and from the leather jacket it became way too hot. After a while longer riff the next song “Burning From The Inside” was followed by a gentle performance “Silent Hedges” and everything was ready for the culmination of the concert. Once we heard sounds that preceded the most famous bass riff “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” the gothic trance began. The audience fell into a trance completely, which continued during the next song “She’s In Parties”. The concert continued with the song “Adrenaline” from the last Bauhaus album, followed by three successes “Kick In The Eye” and “The Passion Of Lovers” that brought the audience back into the state of general ecstasy. The official part of the Murphy concert ended with the song “Dark Entries”. But we wanted more. The second coming out consisted of the two most famous Bauhaus covers “Telegram Sam” and “Ziggy Stardust”, which Murphy again proved that he was the dark side of Ziggy Stardust.
Emotionally, Bela Lugosi’s Dead would have been just another piece of post-punk experimentation, but accompanied by the exceptional lyrics, which depicted the funeral of the Dracula star Bela Lugosi, with bats swooping and virgin brides marching past his coffin. The crowning glory was Murphy’s preposterous vocal, which wobbles along the line that separates high drama of old vampire horror films. The effect was so irresistibly theatrical that in fact, that goth quickly became a very codified musical genre.
So how the moody freaks became so appealing to the audience? It takes a degree of maturity to realize that we’re all moody, dark or experimental with or without help of drugs. We are odd to accept it and move on. The music is bloody brilliant way to channel exceptional moods and healthy degree of lunacy in all of us. But either way, with sentimental remains of my favorite masterpiece horror film by Toni Scott The Hunger starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon, yes all my hair wet up.
The aesthetic of the 80s mesmerized us. There is something about this period, the age of first AIDS victims and the way that presented the phenomenon of growing old and eternal youth, connected to archetypes of men in the way that vampires are shown in the contemporary world. Today’s vampire is far from a vampire from the time of Bela Lugosi, whose interpretation of Count Dracula for many others remains most remarkable to date. His pattern of behavior was predictable. In nowadays nothing is predictable, and a vampire is no longer a vampire, if he is viewed from the traditional perspective understanding of this phenomenon. There was a play on kind of heritage, that is, the way in which modern generations perceive the concept of music. As for the vampires the same goes for the music. That was historically a special time for us: especially in music and pop culture, the end of 70s were crucial. This wasn’t the doom and gloom dirge I’d expected: this was something thrilling and entirely new, even if I have heard the band first time in the 80s in my period of early youth.
I think that liking Bauhaus and binding to this music experimentation was the reason I have moved into a contemporary theater in the first place. Early 80s had depth in popular culture. It’s little wonder that Bauhaus inspired not only a generation of musicians, but also a generation of artists. And it’s all terribly exciting. “Bauhaus unintentionally birthed a genre (Goth), moved on, moved forward and surged mercurial through the post-punk music scene, tearing into tense, stark, dub-bass driven new-wave, T-Rex-esque glam, and swirling, clattering, orchestral atmospherics, whilst churning it all into a grand velvet, Rimbaudian hallucination. It was a wild, inspired, enthralling sound. And it still is“…said David J for Post-punk Magazine.
There is something very poignant, even nostalgic about this concert, but it also carries a kind of cynicism to a certain degree: a romantic and melancholic illustration of England for us in Eastern Europe, and a remainder of the past and what was the music for us in ex Yugoslavia. This concert felt like the poignant visit of a good ghost of Bela Lugosi and David Bowie tapping on shoulders, saying something like Hello maty…we are here…behind you! Murphy occasionally crowned himself on the stage as a true king of goth, looking up there in the sky while performing. Well hello back you old sods up there somewhere, thank you very much!
By Radmila Djurica
All photos by Jovan Mihajlović / Pris. RS
- Double Dare
- In the Flat Field
- A God in an Alcove
- 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
- Kick in the Eye
- The Passion of Lovers
- Dark Entries
- The Three Shadows, Part II
- Telegram Sam
- Ziggy Stardust
Peter Murphy is currently on tour.. for further information and dates please visit Peter Murphy Official HERE.