The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Peter Murphy Live Australia Perth January 2013




9th JANUARY 2013





They say never meet your heroes and also of course we all know full well that attempting to review anything by the bands you really love is far harder to do if you want to retain your objectivity. Fortunately I have always suffered from never being able to give anything other than my honest opinion. Peter Murphy is an artist I feel that I have had around me all my life, though in reality I first heard him and his band The Bauhaus at ten years old. He is one of the few artists from those days that I still love over thirty years later. Sadly In all of those years life had conspired to ensure I never saw him live until tonight.



Apart from the first three songs when I stood at the front of the stage, camera in hand I am sure I watched this one in a state of slightly stunned disbelief. I finally got to see Peter Murphy and it was all that I imagined it would be and somewhat more.



Before Peter starts proceedings with traditional Bauhaus opener ‘Zikir’ there are a couple of noticeable things about tonight: firstly the audience is decent, though sparser than I imagined, especially after so long (neither Bauhaus or peter Murphy have ever been to Australia); and secondly the crowd is surprisingly diverse in age and dress, though strangely we all seem to have worn black this evening...






The other thing that hits you immediately is how happy and affable Peter Murphy seems to be this evening as all through the show he takes time to talk to the crowd (even at one stage stopping a song to answer a question) or high five them, or shake hands with anyone who offers theirs to him. This is not the serious old grandfather of Goth at all this is a man enjoying himself...



The opening barrage of Bauhaus is welcomed by all, even if I feel that ‘Flat Field’ was a little lacklustre, and looking at my notes that one comment is all that doesn’t positively glow from the page about this evening.



‘Memory Gold’ the first non-Bauhaus track of the night is both faster-paced than any of the openers and has a more traditional ‘Bowie pop’ feel than the brooding dramatics of the opening songs. Murphy then engages the crowd for the first time introducing his guitarist and thanking us for coming to the first show of the Australian Tour before telling us how good it is to hear an English accent (well it is Perth) and that he was almost ‘one of us’ and his father nearly came out as a ‘Ten pound Pom’. He then wisely decides that he doesn’t want to get into any of that Aussie-Pom stuff, before thanking us for looking like LA but not being LA.  



As far as highlights go on this wonderful evening, you may as well pick each song in turn. Murphy has had such a long and distinguished career that the only real disappointment comes when the show ends and you realise he hasn’t played twenty other songs you also love. The acoustic introduction to ‘Silent Hedges’ sees him hands held up, forcing the words out and into life, the music is juxtaposed with strange angular body movements and oblique stares: it’s a song as brilliant now, tonight, as it was when I heard it at 12 years of age.



The melodica (at least I think that’s what you call those miniature keyboards you blow into) introduction and heavy bass-line and weaving guitar to ‘She's in Parties’ is made even more sublime when Murphy announces ‘happy days are here again’, before introducing snatches of The Doors’ ‘Riders on the Storm’ into the breakdown. To follow that with the laid back bass funk of ‘Kick In the Eye’ is close to perfect.






It’s not until I take my eyes of the man for the first time as we move into 'I'll Fall With Your Knife" that I notice how impossibly low the guitarist’s instrument is slung, there is a pause before Murphy picks up acoustic and his bassist trades the four string Fender for a violin. Just to tease us Murphy throws part of ‘Bela Lugosi’ into the mix, though despite entreaties from the faithful he won’t play in full tonight.



Perhaps best of all this evening is the consistency of material: “Gaslit” a new song from the new EP ‘Secret Bees (of Ninth)’ (“I wanted something that sounds mysterious so fuck you” ) sounds not only as good as anything that made the album proper (Ninth) but stacks up well against anything tonight. It’s a song about a man in his room looking out and before we begin Murphy tells one of the crowd that ‘You've had 50 dollars worth already and we've only been on 25 minutes’ before proceeding to regale us with the first of many of his swan-like bows of the evening.



A cover of one of Murphy’s vocal hero’s’ songs ‘Severance’ comes next and we are treated to a display of Murphy’s vocal gymnastics (Do check out Dead Can Dance- they’re a great Australian band) which ends with a wonderful drum crescendo.  ‘Subway’ that follows is perfect Murphy that captures that huge sound that began with songs like ‘The Light Pours Out of Me’ and became more focussed and harnessed over the years. “If I was put there I'd want to see this” he nods knowingly.



“The Prince and Old Lade Shade” turns into a still edgy and creepy “Stigmata Martyr” before we break for an encore and those of us who have seen the set-list wonder if we are going to get the solo songs or the Bowie/T-Rex cover duo of “Ziggy Stardust” and “Telegram Sam”.



Murphy returns wearing what looks like a flimsy poncho and toting a 12 string acoustic as he breaks into “Marlene Dietrich's favourite poem” and then for me the highlight of the evening “All Night Long” a song I have always known word for word and found myself mouthing them word for word, awash with memories of the first time I heard the song so many years ago. It is magic that only music can bring to you and I get gooseflesh at the memory and the amazing, simple lyrics.



And even though nothing can really steal that moment Murphy thanks us all again for coming and apologises for the band being a little rusty before they break into “Oceans” from ‘Deep’.



The next few minutes wash over me and the band bows and leaves the stage, part of me hopes they will come out again and end with those two alternate encores, but the lights come on and I say to myself ‘No Indigo Eyes’, we’ve waited so long for this and now there are so many reasons to come back again. Music does strange things to you sometimes, and tonight it brought some magic back to me.
If you get the chance to catch any of the dates on the remainder of the tour you won’t regret it.




all words and photos by Mark Diggins