I generally pride myself on valuing “authenticity.” However, considering that as Bauhaus’ 35th anniversary has come around this year and “Ziggy” (Peter Murphy) and “The Spiders” (Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and David J) don’t seem to be seeing eye-to-eye, I was willing to settle for Murphy, the godfather of goth, celebrating the brilliant and critically-underrated post-punk band’s legacy on “The Mr. Moonlight Tour” as a solo act… Well, not only did his stop last week (May 9th) at the Trocadero prove to be one of the most inspiring performances I’ve seen all year, but it proved to be the most inspiring performance I’ve ever seen from Mr. Moonlight/Murphy (including reunion dates with Bauhaus). Murphy’s set was imbued with the “passion” of the world’s maddest “lovers” and sounded as brilliantly raw and morbidly scary as it has existed live in the past three decades.
Peter Murphy’s recent Philadelphia stop also drew the largest and most authentically well-versed “goth” crowd I’ve seen in the decade I’ve spent here. The legendary burlesque theatre was filled with people donning brilliantly off-kilter capes, witch hats, and corsets, celebrating the subversive artistic chaos that ruled their youth. Mr. Murphy also appeared as maturely stylish as he has in a few decades … He wasn’t trying too hard to appear to be 20 again, but he certainly embodied an elegant brand of morose chic… like the Goth version of Morrissey. Murphy also seemed more willing to embrace the abrasiveness of Bauhaus’ sound, without ever catering his physical performance style to what any of the other band members would deem appropriate… He’s comfortable on his own, but is still clearly feeling the fire of his earliest recordings.
Mr. Murphy’s set was a “greatest hits” set, of sorts, but… isn’t that what anniversary tours are all about? The biggest crowd reactions seemed to come from singles “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” “Kick in the Eye,” “Dark Entries,” “The Passion of Lovers,” and “She’s in Parties.” However, for me, the evening’s highlights were tracks 2-4 of the band’s debut, In the Flat Field, which made their appearances early in the set: “Double Dare,” “In the Flat Field,” and “God in an Alcove.” “Double Dare,” for being, arguably, the band’s most haunting track, a tortured, schizophrenic, post-industrial age ballad of sorts, that makes Eraserhead’s “In Heaven,” seem only mildly threatening. “In the Flat Field,” for embracing everything that was beautiful about ’77, but then shoving it one step farther (probably down a black hole). And “God in an Alcove” for being the most horrifying anti-anthem of its time. In case you missed Mr. Murphy’s tribute to his greatest work, or you just wish to relive it, you can thank YouTube users tyrant2525, Ryan Conner, and deadhorse, along with myself (and the extraordinary technology of telephones that shoot video) for recreating the better portion of the evening below.