This was a night of the somewhat unexpected, from the pitifully poor turn out to the surprising turn of events during the encores.
I have to admit that although a fan of Bauhaus my knowledge of Peter Murphy‘s solo material is a bit sketchy so it is a good job that this is the Secret Covers Tour. As the name suggests the set was peppered with his versions of songs by other bands including the likes of Roxy Music, Joy Division, and of course Bowie.
The man cuts a bit of a scary figure these days. The eyes and cheekbones that made him the 80’s goth icon have by no means softened with age and the intervening years have taken a bit of a toll adding a dishevelled air to his well honed posing and posturing.
From the start those eyes and cheekbones were framed by a set of Brian Eno style feathers and an incongruous Turkish hat pulled down over his forehead. This gave emphasis to the stare and the front row got the full treatment as he marched through the first few numbers.
The influence of the recent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails connection is evident in the newer material. This is much more rock than goth and certainly different from the lighter touch that has run through some of his recent songs. But having Mark Gemini Thwaite in the band means that his characteristic guitar sounds prevent the songs from descending into the industrial grind of a NIN and the addition of keyboards for “I’ll Fall With Your Knife” and “Time Has Nothing To Do With It” adds a different dimension.
There was little other interaction with the crowd until one of the new “secret” covers made an appearance with “Instant Karma”
The just as suddenly the mystique fell away. As a preamble to the next cover, Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home A Heartache”, he began a rambling tale of the early days in Northampton, living in his mate’s cupboard and all in a cod Northants accent. It also became apparent that a good proportion of the crowd were actually the extended Murphy family; brothers, sisters and ex-band members. He was complaining about the band being tired; “we need the goth stand-up (30 minutes silence)”
There was something of a homecoming atmosphere about the whole thing, what with the family and the tales of New York and the early days of Bauhaus. Throughout one older well dressed chap stood at the side of the stage just giving an eye to the proceedings. Although dressed conventionally he really stood out in an audience that included the best attire that punks and goths had to offer. He would have a big part to play later on.
In fact he had been there all night through the thoughtful acoustic musings of Temporary Mind, and then Lettie and her awkward atmospheric indie, hiding herself behind a barrier of keyboard and effects pedals. As someone said: a bit like Kristeen Young without the screaming.
“Marlene Dietrich’s Favourite Poem” gave Murphy a bit of a breather and then it was back into the heavy stuff with Bauhaus’ “Too Much 21st Century” and a new song “Secret”
Then he was off! The set seemed a bit short but those in the crowd who knew better seemed unperturbed and after a bit of clapping and cheering he was back for encore number one offering us “something special later” and a brilliant acoustic version “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. It was at this stage that it all turned a bit surreal in a heart-warming kind of way.
Another tale of family life, the Murphy family’s Irish ancestry and Peter growing up in Northampton being the youngest of seven children, led to the introduction on stage of that well dressed older chap. He turned out to be Daniel Murphy, the oldest of the seven and a man with the reputation of being the life and soul of any occasion, and a real performer. Peter had promised him his turn on the stage and here he got it.
If anyone had told me that I would see the original goth god belting out “The Fields of Athenry” I would have told them they were mad – but here we were; “By a lonely prison wall…” the whole deal. This was more Parkhead than Leamington Spa.
With Daniel’s fifteen minutes over, normal service was resumed with “She’s in Parties” and a truly fantastic cover of “Transmission” complete with Curtis-like puppet dancing completing the encore.
More clapping cheering got him back for “Ziggy Stardust” and a final low key version of “Space Oddity” with just vocals and remote keyboard with Murphy and the band lying flat on the stage throughout.
I cant believe that there was anything better on offer in this part of the world on a Saturday night so it was a disappointment that only 150 or so turned up to witness a really memorable evening; but I was glad to be there. For those who stayed away — its your loss!
I wish we had one but Mr Murphy is a bit protective of this sort of thing — allegedly!
Review – Ian Gelling
Photos – Steph Colledge