It’s goth week extravaganza here at The Obsolete, buy me a cape and cover me in panda bear makeup because this monday was Peter Murphy’s show that i went and Thursday i’m going to see Nine Inch Nails, so you can understand now if i start to post grim personal posts and have pictures of Suicide Girls in here...yeah, i hope i’m kidding too. So yeah, i went to see Peter Murphy last night; last time he came to Mexico 2 or 3 years ago, i didn’t go and i felt sort of dumb for not going so i kinda promise myself that i would go next time he came thru town, and so i did.
The Salón 21, where the show happened, is very near my house, doors were scheduled to open at 9:00 pm so i left home at like 8:40, i even got to watch The Simpsons before leaving, but then i finally did; arriving there, i was kinda surprised to see that the vast majority of the crowd outside the venue lining up to enter weren’t goths, in fact there was a little of everything, some punks, some metalheads and a whole lotta normal people, the place got packed and i was shocked by another thing: there was a lot of radio stations and tv cameras covering the event; inside, there is a second floor “VIP” area and it was fucking packed, something completely unexpected. Anyway, i got to stand as close as i could, ending up something like a few feet away from the stage, by the right side, in front of a column, it was quite crowded so getting that close to the stage was remarcable, girls abounded, most escorted by boyfriends, some dolled up in death rock fashion while their boyfriends stood in simple tucked-in shirts and pants, some girls were in packs, there were your token goths everywhere but very few in between, there was every kind of goth represented here: a vampire goth here, a Fields Of The Nephilim goth there, a Sister Of Mercy kid over there, Robert Smith goth, Marilyn Manson goth, The Cult goth, etc., you name it.
Something like 20 or 30 mintues after i walked in, arab chants started to blast out of the PA, after a few mintues of that, the lights went out with the singing still happening and then the band hit the stage, starting to play a song when i realized this was going to be an experience i’ve never had before: you see, i actually know ONE Peter Murphy solo song (“Cuts You Up”) and , sure, i know Bauhaus, which is one of my favorite post punk but Murphy doesn’t play Bauhaus songs live, so my knowledge of songs played was minimal. So the first song starts and it kinda reminds me of a more hard rock version of The Cure’s Disintegration, which was like the norm, alternating between music like that and Adore-era Smashing Pumkins-like, or a more rock Songs Of Faith and Devotion/Ultra; but dude has been doing this since the 80’s, he is a total pioneer. The highlights of the show were the songs themselves which are amazing, well written, catchy yet brooding but hopeful, unlike his work with Bauhaus which was pretty fatalist. Murphy came out as a very carismatic live performer (note the word “performer”), living out his character as a gothstar, he truly loves that shit; he struck me as a more market-specific David Bowie, acting out, exaggerating his stage moves while sweating out charisma, yeah, that word again, but he is truly charismatic, the crowd would go bananas everytime he waved his arms or pogoed around or stroke a posse or hit a particularly emotive singing note.
After the first batch of songs, hard rocking hook-ladden tunes with goth overtones, a second batch started and this was what i expected, more balladesque stuff started to appear on the stage, and couples started to embrace each other as the songs went on; yeah, the songs were still good but i couldn’t help to feel a little bored and unmoved by that stuff. After a couple of those, the band left for the first encore, Peter returned with a new shirt on and a 12-string acoustic guitar and he started to play a song i probably have heard, like, once before but seems to be a big crowd pleaser since everybody started to sing along to it, that song was better than the Goth For Lovers section that went on a little before, he then played another song in that acoustic, drumless setting, after he gave his guitar to a roadie and started to play “Cuts You Up” which of course drove the whole place crazy (me included), everyone sang along, every part of it, verses, choruses, ad-libs, everything; Peter started to lean into the crowd. After it was over, i thought the show was over but the lights didn’t come on, people started chanting “PETER, PETER...” until Murphy came back onstage, said he’d love to speak Spanish to the crowd but he hardly knew any while i was thinking to myself “how is he going to top the last encore?”, so he started to sing a capella and pulled it off, very few can pull off a capella singing like he does (his voice is as good live as it was back in the Bauhaus days); after that, the band came back onstage and played an out and out power ballad, saved from cheesedom only by Murphy’s vocals. With his singing duties for the song over, he waved goodbye, thanked the crowd and walked away while his band was still playing the outro to the song, when it ended, the band walked away too.
But the crowd kept screaming and the house lights didn’t go on again and i thought to myself “how is he ever going to top this?” and then Peter and the band came onstage again and started playing Iggy Pop’s classic “Lust For Life” which i bet the kids with their fashionably expensive dirty clothes and Interpol/The Killers haircuts who i saw while making the rounds before the show thought he was playing some Jet song; that became a highlight for me since i didn’t see it coming (and jugding from people around me, they didn’t expect it either), he did a great job with it; then they waved goodbye and left, again the house lights stayed off and i thought “how is he going to top this? Is he going to bring Daniel Ash and co. and make a Bauhaus reunion encore?” i prayed he did that, but instead, he came onstage and did a song not unlike the songs of the main set, got his band together afterwards for a hug and a bow and then left for good.
I did enjoy the show and i’ll probably get a comp with his best songs on it to remember this concert, which was a different experiece but not as enjoyable as knowing the songs and singing along and really get into stuff and, honestly, only a few bands can pull the trick of being known and have me feel like i was a fan by the time the show’s over (like it happened to me last summer when i saw Judas Priest at Ozzfest). But it was great, watching a guy who did some groundbreaking stuff like 20+ years ago playing songs that were so good, not to mention the fact that i walked out of the concert with a rad new Eintürzende Neubauten t-shirt
AFS v. 377 ~ The Power of Contempt
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