Next month the founders and all-time champions of goth rock, Bauhaus, will be playing their first show in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection in 24 years. Although we have seen the band’s individual members quite a few times in that period, both solo and in various groupings (Bassist David J joined vocalist Peter Murphy on his last tour at Union Transfer, and guitarist Daniel Ash and drummer Kevin Haskins played The Trocadero in 2017 as Poptone.), this will be the post-punk band’s first appearance together since they played the Electric Factory on their first reunion tour (They did, however, play Camden in 2006 with Nine Inch Nails, for those of you itching to correct me.)
Bauhaus have been back to playing together since late 2019 and on Saturday, September 10th, they will be headlining the Metropolitan Opera House, and I suspect the ornately decorated opera house and former church will be the perfect setting for the eldest and grandest of goth rockers. For those of you wondering if the sixtysomethings can still exemplify the doom and dissonance of the band that wrote “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” The Times (UK) had this to say of a recent performance:
“Unlike most bands of their vintage, Bauhaus have retained a thrillingly raw, visceral, experimental edge. While Murphy’s still-powerful voice careened between strangulated croak and feral howl on high-drama songs such as In the Flat Field and The Passion of Lovers, Daniel Ash’s guitar was all jagged scrapes, disruptive shudders and coffin-lid creaks. One of the band’s biggest hits, She’s in Parties, opened out into an enjoyably rambling avant-rock instrumental… Bauhaus put the disco into discordant.”
There are still a fair number of good seats left for Bauhaus’ September 10th show at The Met, so I would recommend snatching them up as soon as you can. And while the band has not been doing interviews since reuniting, I have taken the liberty of ranking their five brilliantly goth studio LPs below, if you need something to get you in the mood.
- – Burning from the Inside (1983)
Despite including two of their most noteworthy anthems (“She’s in Parties” and “Slice of Life”), by the time Bauhaus embarked on their final pre-reunion album Murphy had splintered from David J, Ash, and Haskins, leaving us with a good, but not great, album from a band ready to move on.
- Go Away White (2008)
While the reunion or “comeback” album is historically the most feared and ultimately cringeworthy thing legends of any subgenre of punk can attempt, Bauhaus’ first effort in 25 years was shockingly good, with the band building upon the legacy of moody and morose musicality that they had inspired in the decades since their disbandment without trying to simply replicate any of it.
- The Sky’s Gone Out (1982)
After establishing their potency with the two definitive goth albums of all-time, Bauhaus’ third LP saw them expanding their sound to include more of a nod history’s greatest postmodern singer/songwriters (It opens with a cover of Brian Eno’s “Third Uncle.”) It managed to crack the Top 10 on the UK charts and its best track, “Swing the Heartache,” might be the most satisfyingly Apocalyptic ballad ever written.
- Mask (1981)
While it doesn’t contain quite as many flawlessly executed musical nightmares as its predecessor or the potential pop sensibilities as its follow-up, Bauhaus’s sophomore effort sees the breadth of their charm better than any other release. In addition to the sounds they perfected on their debut, they tinker with reggae, hard rock, and dance music with an avant-garde curiosity and precision on par with experimenters like William S. Burroughs and Cocteau.
- In the Flat Field (1980)
Like The Stooges’ debut, it’s often the one that started it all that remains the genre’s best. Before goth came to be associated with the fatally mopey, Bauhaus churned out an album as sonically scary as it was sentimentally spine-chilling and the most beautifully abrasive collection of songs since Iggy and the Asheton brothers took their own sledgehammer to the framework of Rock N’ Roll.
*Get your tickets here.