Oh! What a circus, Oh! What a show, the Glittering Darkness has come to town.
Bauhaus and the Ally Pally, more divorces than Burton and Taylor, the marriage was finally consummated on Halloween’s eve.
Berlin’s Hope, a Cocteaus/ Savages hybrid opened proceedings before nestling back into the warmth underbelly of a time stretched Bela Lugosi’s Dead. At an appropriate moment during that stretch Bauhaus took to the stage shrouded amongst a plethora of white drop light and dry ice, Daniel Ash in spangle jacket and trademark shades looking every inch the glam-goth spider of yesteryear kick starting Cale’s Rosegarden Funeral of Sores amidst a hail of feedback, the ever youthful and equally shaded Kevin Haskins cueing the song in…David J, the epitome of cool, engaging that hypnotic repetitive bass line, enter Peter Murphy /Thomas Jerome Newton resplendent in fedora and cane, Bauhaus were back, fifteen years gone in fifteen seconds, integrity fully intact. Raging through their debut albums key touchstones; Double Dare, In the Flat Field, A God In An Alcove and Spy in the Cab, a mildly irritated Murphy chastises the lighting tech for missing the cue as he cautiously tips his crown emulating the fallen idol during the closing bars of A God In An Alcove.
A welcome dip into the second album (Mask) to pull out In Fear of Fear, which see Ash engaging his clucking percussion whilst firing splinters of saxophone.
Bauhaus trawl the singles bank heavily during this set as the creepy Terror Couple Kill Colonel, the ever popular She’s In Parties and the funky Kick in the Eye further delight Tim Burton’s children of the night.
Their magnum opus, Bela Lugosi’s Dead creeps in mid set, feeling somewhat out of place and devoid of the adornment it so richly deserves, lost in large by its ill-advised placement, whilst the i-phone generation embrace and raise their weapons aloft to capture just one second of this spectacle, enjoy it and live the moment for fucks sake.
David J cues in an incredible Man with X-Ray Eyes with his thunderous bass notes as Ash wraps and smothers them in squalling, screeching soundscapes, Murphy proving why Bauhaus are as relevant today as they ever were turning in a stella vocal performance.
“And now for something completely different” announces Ash as the lush strings of Silent Hedges swathe the palace before segueing into a sing-a-along The Passion of Lovers, J’s roaring, rumbling low end propelling the song. A return to the flat field for arguably this set’s highlight and penultimate number; Stigmata Martyr, benefitting hugely from Tim Newman’s incredible disembowelling of Puccini’s Turandot creating its new underscore before Ash frantically enters into a ferocious feedback barrage to signal the onset of the standard set closer; Dark Entries.
A cacophonic bass heavy take on Iggy’s Sister Midnight opens the encore trilogy paving the way for Bauhaus’ frantic take on Bolan’s glam anthem Telegram Sam before embracing their top ten hit and no doubt the raison d’ etre for many of tonight’s’ black draped ensemble.
“Not only is this the last show of the tour but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do” declared David Bowie before ringing the neck of rock ‘n’ roll (Suicide), he was of course referring to his alto-ego Ziggy Stardust, Murphy grabbing that now famous statement and twisting it during the third encore number, Promising this is not the last show…Murphy’s voice as powerful and sonorous as it ever was, reaching the high’s he once could is no longer in his range though, particularly evident here on Ziggy Stardust but that’s a natural ageing penance, not a criticism, far from it actually.
The undead begin to drift away through dimly lit exits before making a hasty retreat back into the cauldron of the Alexandra Palace as the band unprecedently return with a rousing All We Ever Wanted Was Everything. A guitar wielding Murphy introducing the song with a succession of audience banter reminiscent of the Bauhaus of old.
Bauhaus booking The Alexandra Palace, with its grandiose placement overlooking central London from its stunning vantage point seemed perhaps a little ambitious on its original announcement, Bauhaus though, true to form, proved all the detractors wrong on the night. The bats have left the bell tower…for now.
Andrew J Brooksbank