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December 2018

LIVE REVIEW: Peter Murphy – 40 years of Bauhaus, Store Vega, 11.12.2018

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Bauhaus

As the title of this show tells, this Tuesday night at Store Vega is all about nostalgia.
A look around while listening to the opening act Desert Mountain Tribe, shows an audience that has at least one thing in common:
They prefer to wear darker colors.
The supporting duo’s set of energetic, monotone and dark psych-rock culminating in an exhaustive and repetitive performance by the drummer is well received by the mature crowd. And after only a short moment, the main acts are entering the stage.
Peter Murphy, peacocking in a full beard, full make up and a dark, shiny jacket has teamed up with bass player David J, as one half of the original Bauhaus. As stand ins for the absent members is The Mission guitarist, Mark Gemini Thwaite and drummer Marc Slutsky.
As the show opens with the disturbing guitar riff of “Double Dare”, the opening song from the band’s 1980 debut album In the Flat Field. Most people in the audience is immediately drawn into the the atmosphere of what is by many considered the first goth records recorded. Adding the drums, functioning as both rhythm section as well as a backing melody, transcends the whole room within seconds, even before Murphy opens his mouth.

peter murphy bauhaus

While 61 year old Peter Murphy’s voice may have turned darker during the years he still masters his unique and dramatic vocal that has been his trademark in four decades, always combined with a theatrical mime show, highly influenced by a young David Bowie’s and early European dada avantgarde.
Thwaite’s guitar playing was an impressive imitation of Daniel Ash’ original work, yet still leaving room for his personal interpretations. And in combination with Peter Murphy’s beard and sufi dance, inspired by his years spend in Turkey, made most of the songs seem fresh and relevant.
As the concert developed, Peter Murphy was less tight in his performance and showed a bit more of a traditional rock’n’roll attitude, reaching out to the audience and even during “Nerves” promoting the audience to do hand claps.
This made the second half of the show loose a bit of momentum while at the same time the band also suffered a bit from a few sound issues.
As the band played their big hit “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” Murphy posed as Count Dracula on stage but even though the audience applauded it was perhaps the weakest part of the show. Fortunately the band managed to get back on track, playing “Kick in the Eye”, “Passion of Lovers”, “Dark Entries” and other classic songs a lot more convincing and after several extra songs ending the whole show with a perfect praise to David Bowie with another hit from the Bauhaus catalogue: “Ziggy Stardust”.

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

LIVE REVIEW: Vashti Bunyan, Nørrebro Teater, 06.12.2018

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vashti bunyan live at nørrebro teatre copenhagen

In a genre of soothing singer-songwriters, folk legend Vashti Bunyan is particularly soothing. But if an evening at home with her records is a gentle way to ease your mind, then seeing her play live fills you with warmth and comfort in a way paralleled only by receiving a letter (yes letter, not email) from a friend when you need it most.

Part of this is down to the fact that, aside from being stripped back to just herself and her long time backing guitarist/vocalist Gareth Dickson, her performance is very faithful to her recordings. That unique timbre that makes her voice sound like falling through a cloud carries us through the evening. It’s familiar and consistent and still so unlike any of her contemporaries or imitators.

But part of what makes the evening so relaxing is that Bunyan is as much a storyteller between songs as she is in her lyrics. There are anecdotes to accompany each song, whether it’s a tale from the 60s or reflections that inspired her more recent work, all filled with laughter. Some of these stories bring unique insight to her music; it’s hard not to hear the Beach Boys reference in “I’d Like to Take a Walk Through Your Mind” after learning that she wrote it when Andrew Loog Oldham told her to write a song combining Tim Hardin, the Mamas and the Papas, and Pet Sounds. And there’s also triumph of the spirit as Bunyan recounts her long road to recognition.

“Nobody took much notice at the time. I was told my songs were quite uncommercial,” she says. “And in the last few years, [‘Train Song’ has] been used in commercials.”

It’s quite special that Bunyan is willing to play the old songs, willing to tell the stories behind them, but also willing to look at what she dreamed about in her 20s with clear-eyed experience of someone in her 70s. Bunyan is kind to her younger self and gives us all an opportunity to be kind to the idealistic versions of ourselves that we might keep out of sight. It’s this generosity that has the crowd on their feet cheering at the end of her set, and that we can use to counter a harsher reality.

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