BRIXTON ACADEMY FRIDAY 19TH AUGUST 2022
Unlike many of their contemporaries Bauhaus never chose to join any retro circuit, unquestionable integrity, playing their own game and by their own rules. Like any truly great art form the real deal will always shine through. This in Brixton Academy on Friday evening was the real deal.
London transport strikes made for an horrendous journey for many of tonight’s attendees, this one included. No support slot and an early start widely publicised to enable the audience to make plans for home that for many was going to be a long night.
Through a myriad of white light and dry ice came a hail of feedback created by glam/goth’s very own guitar anti-hero Daniel Ash, resplendent in leather, feathers, shades and cool the feedback becoming instantly recognisable triggered by the ever-youthful Kevin Haskins as John Cale’s Rosegarden Funeral of Sores, enter David J, the last of the four on stage to provide the pulse. Peter Murphy, voice, shaven head and beard stares out to an ecstatic crowd. His prize is claimed, he hasn’t even opened his mouth yet.
Bauhaus rip through long established set staples from their 1980 debut long player, Double Dare, as menacing and threatening as it ever was, a piercing, scorching In the Flat Field whilst A God in and Alcove sees Murphy rest his crown ever so slightly off kilter at the songs close reflecting the subject matter of once proud idols having fallen from grace, not something that could be ever attributed to Bauhaus.
A very welcome return for a sophomore favourite as Ash fires splinters of saxophone and J once again providing a solid heartbeat as In Fear of Fear resecures its place as a firm live favourite of yesteryear. A step back to In the Flat Field for Spy in the Cab, brought to life by J’s single note repetitive bass line. Expressionism in its purest simplistic form.
The first of seven singles performed this evening as the ever-popular live favourite She’s in Parties is delivered note perfect, the disco fused Kick in the Eye is cued up next by Haskins whilst J wraps an incredible funky bass line around Ash’s staccato chords.
A lifetime ago their magnum opus, the genre defining Bela Lugosi’s Dead was reserved for the encore number, its true and rightful home. It feels sadly out of place here mid-set, however, the deafening roar from tonight’s faithful as Haskins brings the undead to back to life speaks volumes no one really cares this evening.
Silent Hedges, the only number performed from the band’s third and most successful album The Sky’s Gone Out is played impeccably tonight, Murphy proving beyond any doubt that his voice has not wavered by the passing of time, Silent Hedges paving the way for its twelve-string sister The Passion of Lovers equally quells any of those doubters.
Murphy is fighting fit, looking incredibly healthy as he circles, like the prowling panther of the stage he always was. Its quite something to witness. Tim Newman’s Puccini crafted underscore brings Stigmata Martyr back to life, Murphy’s simple use of the mic stand to emulate the cross as he stands aloft behind Haskins is mesmerising. Its abrupt conclusion giving way to Ash’s maelstrom of feedback triggering the descending chords of Dark Entries, taking up its place once again as the defining set closer. In the live environment Dark Entries really comes to life, fast paced, loud and furious.
Returning for a four-song encore initiated by the rapturous audience Bauhaus are about to deliver something that’s clearly very dear to their hearts, much like their choice of single cover versions back in the day they have never shied away from their roots – instead and against all the odds they embraced them as Iggy’s Sister Midnight is treated with the utmost respect, faithfully delivered but with their own twist.
In 2008 Bauhaus released their first fully realised album since 1983’s Burning from the Inside; Go Away White. This collection of songs has been largely ignored in the live environment from the get- go. Tonight, however an incredible thunderous Adrenaline is performed from that album, this evenings highlight by a country mile, for this writer at least. Adrenaline can hold its own placed alongside any live favourite from the band’s arsenal without falter, tonight’s rendition is simply astonishing and a very welcome addition.
Those glam roots are back again as their frantic take on Bolan’s classic Telegram Sam is served up and for dessert Bowie’s seminal Ziggy Stardust. A song the band still clearly enjoy playing, a vamped up and dirty Spiders from Mars if you will.
Its highly likely that Bauhaus have now left London and the UK for that matter for the last time, gone with dignity, not with a whimper but with a bang.
Andrew J Brooksbank.