The lights were a kaleidoscopic forest of cool blues and vivid indigo. The crowd was awaiting the return of Peter Murphy, the founder of legacy goth act Bauhaus, who was currently on tour revisiting the seminal album In the Flat Field, which had once been defined during its own time as “Gothick-Romantick pseudo-decadence.”
The showcase was an attempt to relive the romanticized dark glam that typified the genre, authentically and in the flesh. The audience skewed a bit old, with a handful of 20-somethings still in the depths of a Hot Topic goth phase who probably watched too much anime on adult swim in the mid-aughts. The two guys in front of me complained about it being late af — 10:15 pm. Goth had a day job…
Bossanova mixed with golden oldies rang from the stage monitors as everyone shifted around, tending to the necessary imbibe or smoke.
The tour-de-force finally arrived. Peter Murphy came in abrupt and grating, with flaring lights and feedback-driven noise that somehow embodied a sense of dark and forlorn melodicism. Murphy himself embodied a demonic spirit that bobbed on top of the sheer enormity of the chaos produced by the band, dressed in leather that glittered with sweat and metal. Peter delivered a tirade at the audience in the form of shouting and rhythmic screeches, commanding the stage while raising his arms up as if to show defiance to an uncaring god.
At times Peter embodied a darker Iggy Pop in his performance and vocal delivery. He barked into a megaphone, almost in contempt of his audience. The bass grinded, emitting guttural leads as the guitar pulsated through the combination of distortion and gain, creating a discordant noise. Peter would crucify himself with the mic stand, sauntering around backwardly with the mic in hand. The disharmonic cacophony of the music sent the crowd into an ecstatic turmoil, bordering on a brooding dirge.
The minimalist presentation of Bauhaus’ early work still rang true in its own indignation. Murphy seemed a madman possessed by his own twisted desires, leering at the crowd and treating them as they were only there by chance to observe his theatrical antics.
Peter Murphy showcased the gloomy and glam aesthetics that defined the movement he helped pioneer. Shouting to the discordant noise created by the band, age had not silenced his dynamism and action on stage as he twirled wildly with the words he preached to his waiting disciples. The sound resembled an atonal underground rave, with the pounding syncopation of the drums and the biting, distorted guitars. Peter would stare off to fixate on a far off point, embodying the theatrical indulgence and art school aesthetic that the crowd had paid to see. His performance better resembled a series of theatric monologues, mouthing obscure phrases that only grasped at their hidden meanings.