Concert Review:

Peter Murphy Kicks Off North American Tour

Studio Seven, Seattle, March 7, 2011

(Article first published as Concert Review: Peter Murphy - Studio Seven, Seattle, March 7, 2011 on Blogcritics)

Photo by Chris Rose                                                           Peter Murphy: Undead In Seattle

I can’t name much more ageist enterprises than rock music, gothic sensibilities, and vampires.

As such, Peter Murphy – former front man of Bauhaus, aka the house band in The Hunger, a movie about a vampire forced to age and die – must really feel at odds must when he’s forced to leave the crypt for the occasional tour.

Backing his unreleased ninth solo album – stunningly called Ninth – Murphy has now embarked on a massive 29 date American tour.

Not knowing what to expect at the kick off show in Seattle, I envisioned a faded and delusional star ala Sunset Boulevard, oblivious to the shriveled, yet corpulent black-clad crowd in front of him.

A former male stripper, Murphy still has his trademark sunken cheekbones, which have since been joined by a bald spot and slight paunch, which he cheekily flashed and self-deprecated after an ardent admirer bellowed how she found him “sexy.”

Full marks have to be awarded for Murphy's proudly owning all of his 53 years, a refreshing self-awareness that was not lost on the set itself.

Effusive and charming, far from the temperamental 30 and 40-year-old versions of himself, Murphy charmed and quipped throughout, seemingly auditioning for a dinner show in Goth Vegas, a natural progression after his recent role in Twilight: Eclipse.

Kicking off the set with new material before working his way to lesser Bauhaus tracks (“Burning From The Inside” and “Stigmata Martyr”) and classic solo tracks (“Indigo Eyes” and “Cuts You Up”), Murphy and his somewhat rusty backing band started out slow, murky, and chaotic.

However, as each successive number was dispatched, the show gained composure and momentum, right up until the final encore: a blinding version of Joy Division’s “Transmission.”

Knowing the show would not be deemed a success if Bauhaus' uber-hit “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” was omitted, Murphy re-“vamped” his stellar solo number “A Strange Kind of Love,” inserting a lyrical snippet of "Bela" to rousing applause.

Alarmingly, Murphy’s usually magnificent voice sounded strained at times during the show, which doesn’t bode well for such a long tour.

Murphy’s voice didn’t necessarily heal, as much as he managed it better, as the show progressed.

In all, it was a marvel watching someone conduct himself with such great showmanship, wit, and aplomb as did Murphy on this night.

Unfortunately, such a demonstration was lost on many in attendance.

Droopy tattoos, stretch marks, and ill-fitting leather are signs of a former life well-lived and thereby forgivable.

However, the need to monopolize attention by talking throughout the show and by performing interruptive, interpretive dances dating back to the Sisters of Mercy's Wake video, demonstrated a distinct lack of poise on the part of certain audience members.

---Chris "Gutter" Rose