Hear me out – I know this is a review of Thursday night’s show, not a character study of the man affectionately known as the Grandfather of Goth. But the show (and what a show – exactly what it should have been, and was) can’t be truly described without respectfully acknowledging one of the most notorious musicians in the early 80s era of post-punk, gothic rock genres.
So, Peter Murphy is like an onion, right? Not because he makes people cry (although if I were Bono, I’d perhaps sleep with one eye open), and I can assure you there is no hint of a pungent scent from Murphy, having personally witnessed the Englishman acting like a proper gentlemen during his set, leaning into the crowd to give fans’ camera phones a fighting chance and taking the hands of a few lucky female admirers.
No – like an onion, and a fellow distinguished English musician of past, John Lennon (and if you know your children’s movies, a certain green fabled character too), Peter Murphy, after a 30-year preceding career as frontman of the original Gothic rock band, Bauhaus and similar success in his solo ventures, which saw influences from the chart topping rock and pop rhythms of that time to Middle Eastern religion, has layers. Although it is his role as the primary vocalist of Bauhaus, together with his piercing gaze and sharp cheekbones that he is renowned for, he is an artist in every sense of the word; a colourful (albeit not literally) figure who has dabbled in dance and theatre as well as music, who brings with him a history of spirituality and documented performance on the stage, a place arguably his second home. Thus making himself home in Adelaide, Murphy brought all the tricks of his artistic trades cross-country, his first ever tour to Australia a success when it had only just begun.
Fittingly out of the darkness, smoke settling across the stage as the audience now filling the venue gathered as close as they could, Peter Murphy then made his first appearance for the evening with the opening song of Zikir, the closing track of Bauhaus’ last release. Evidence that he was indeed loved was strong with all eyes upon the frontman in all his morbid glory. Acknowledging that the admiration and sight of a well assembled crowd was lovely, Murphy carried the night’s high spirits forth with several songs of his own, including Memory Go and I Spit Roses.
Between songs, Murphy graciously thanked his opening band, Brillig and remarked to his audience about his observations of music of today, where bands like The Rolling Stones had become ‘the walking dead’ and there was perhaps more than meets the eye with modern, popular acts like U2, while musicians such as himself did ‘the real [thing]’. If the standard of musicianship Murphy discussed was not quite understood then, or after the band ended their set, it was made crystal clear upon their return with not one, but two powerful encores, which drew together songs of new and old from both Murphy and Bauhaus’s back catalogue with Marlene Dietrich’s Favourite Poem, Severance and All Night Long. Humorous assurance from Murphy that none were a ballad and we needn’t worry, not when it was he behind the mic was also well received.
Just like his music, in both memory and machine, Peter Murphy lingers. He stayed in the venue, well on into the night to greet and speak with fans, many of whom felt the whole experience was not only unreal, but also once in a lifetime. And although there is truth in these thoughts, those who appeared to welcome Murphy to Australia will not forget his presence, nor the famous face that first appeared in cult horror classic, The Hunger. The Grandfather of Goth lives on and it was an honour to be a part of his show and feel part of his family, even just for one night.
Review by Rebecca Grant
Photos by Melissa Donato - view full gallery here