Peter Murphy: Concert Review – Corporation, Sheffield, UK August 6, 2010

Adapted from Penny Black Music:

As a Bauhaus fan of many years, I was keen to see what a Peter Murphy solo gig would be like. I didn’t follow his solo career after Bauhaus split as musically I had moved onto other things and I did not find that it compared to Bauhaus all that favourably, unlike Daniel Ash’s projects Love and Rockets and Tones on Tail.

After the Bauhaus reunion gig I had been to in Manchester in 2005, I was hopeful that it would stand up. I was also a bit older and less prone to comparing his solo work unfavourably with Bauhaus.

On entering the Corporation, there was a lot of dry ice and a collection of fellow ageing Goths. I also met there a friend who was complaining about the previous two gigs in the tour he had been to, which did not bode well. I’d seen footage of one of the gigs and was aware that it wasn’t just Peter Murphy solo. He had a new band and was playing Bauhaus material as well as his own – which I was looking forward to.

It’s strange seeing someone who was such an idol, older but performing in the same theatrical way as he used to. There were a lot of bird imitations, large and small, and not only that but he was surprisingly chatty doing bad imitations of Jarvis Cocker talking about Bauhaus on the radio, as well as chatting generally about the problems of getting his new album released in the today’s climate. People were, however. really there for the music
and I’m afraid too much talking meant not enough of that.

It was a gig in two parts. There was Murphy’s own material that I know little of. It’s more mature than Bauhaus, often slower and more thoughtful. The comparison is startling when he launched into ‘Stigmata Martyr’ – post punk and raucous, even in comparison with the previously played ‘Silent Hedges’ and ‘All We Ever Wanted Was Everything’ – but then those are later Bauhaus material.

After the main set, the encore was rather disappointing being made up of cover versions rather than any original material – It started with Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’ and via a long monologue about releasing his album, or lack of release, he went on to perform David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ for which the band lay down on the stage so you couldn’t see them. I’m sure it seemed a good idea at the time, but it was a bit dull for the audience, Murphy was always known for being a bit off beat but spectacle is always better than non-spectacle.

In all it was a patchy experience with some brilliant parts, some embarassing parts and some moments of pure ego. The brilliance made up for the other bits, but don’t go expecting to recapture the excitement of Bauhaus. I think for the Sheffield gig we were lucky to get him in a good mood and putting an effort into the performance.

The photographs that accompany this article were taken for Pennyblackmusic by Neil Bailey.

 

 

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