PETER MURPHY and OURS at Lee's Palace, Friday, May 10. Rating: NN
"There's a lot of black here tonight," Peter Murphy remarked, surveying the sold-out, packed-in, rainwater-on-the-leather-pants-stinky crowd at Lee's Palace. "You don't have to wear black to be goth. I'm wearing blue. I was also never goth."
That was funny. It'd be a bit like BB King telling you he's not a bluesman. Or a black guy. Murphy's the Godfather of Goth, founding member and vocalist for Bauhaus - the goth rock band (with apologies to the Sisters of Mercy, Fields of Nephilim, et al). And Murphy's set last night was comprised entirely of Bauhaus songs, marking the 35th anniversary of the English band's formation. So, yes, it was all very goth.
The set cut a healthy swath across the Bauhaus back catalog. Murphy strutted on stage in mismatched leather trousers and jacket to chant the lyrics to King Volcano from the band's fourth record, 1983's Burning From The Inside, then struggled against sound problems to work through Greatest Hits like Double Dare, Dark Entries, A Kick In The Eye and the band's signature tune Bela Lugosi's Dead. (Is there any song as directly associated with one genre as Bela Lugosi's Dead is with goth rock? Maybe classical music and that one Beethoven number?) He may have even dropped in a song from Bauhaus' disappointing 2008 reunion album, Go Away White (Adrenalin, I think it's called) though honestly I'm not familiar enough with the album to be sure.
Murphy was charming, if a little hemmed in. His too-tight goth leathers felt restrictive, known as he his for wearing almost cartoonishly billowy man-blouses during his non-Bauhaus solo shows, flapping around on stage like some possessed crow. It felt like watching a pretty good Bauhaus cover band - which I guess it pretty much was. The sound was noticeably bad, with Murphy's mic seeming to cut in and cut, only permitting certain registers of his rich baritone to pass through it, and guitar failures requiring mulligans on a number of tracks. Openers Ours were OK: a sort of goth-y post-grunge thing, very sincere but very cheesy, splitting the difference between early The Cult and Collective Soul.