Peter Murphy (and She Wants Revenge): Touched by the Hand (and Crotch) of Goth

Gothlings young and mostly old assembled on December 2nd to pay homage to the Grand High Poohbah of Bauhaus, Peter Murphy. Assembled was the blue-haired girl, the really pierced girl, the girl with the long black flowy lace skirt, the guy from the 80s Canadian new wave band I used to be obsessed with, the guys with eyeliner, the shaved headed guys who all look like the Observer in Fringe, and the girl with fangs. Yeah, it’s been a while since Murphy’s toured and there was a palpable sense of excitement and devotion swelling up in the Vancouver venue called Venue.Peter Murphy, Mikala Taylor/ photo

Problem was, first we had to endure the aural wallpaper of the excrutiating dull and faux-dreary of this band called She Want Revenge. A band, I am told, that THE KIDS™ love. Not sure why, ‘cos lead singer Justin Warfield used to be a hip-hop dude and now literally sings stuff like “Kicking is hard when you need a fix” and what it’s like to feel like a woman. Or something. Anyway, ugh.

After they were granted an astounding full hour on stage – for indeed this was meant to be a co-headlining tour (Godflesh-knows-why) – it was time for…a 20 minute delay to the start of Peter Murphy’s set. Not much in theory, but in reality would actually cost us an encore.

Techs fiddled and faffed with sound – thereby eating into the precious time before curfew. Yeah, it was one of those nights where Murphy had to be offstage at the stroke of 10:15pm in order to make way for the club’s later, err, club night. HATE HATE HATE those. Either start on time, venues called Venue, or let the twinkies in the queue outside freeze for a few minutes longer.

Peter Murphy, Mikala Taylor/ photoBut there he was, eventually- the Fairy Gothmother – all high-camp and slight ridiculous posing, BUT WITH THAT VOICE! Those songs I have known and loved since I was kneehigh to a pair of 8-hole Doc Martens and painting spiderwebs on my face!  In fact, I think I was knee-high when I last met Peter Murphy, back in 1990, and the last time I saw him live was in London about 6 years ago, when he sang half a song with this hand on my head. “OH GODS IS SHE TELLING THAT STORY AGAIN?”, my photog friend Darko (that’s his real name, not his goth one) joked at the club as I told that story again.

But  to hear Murphy start with “All Night Long” then admirably fly (no, really, he was flapping his wings) through new one “Velocity Bird” and then go into other tracks from Ninth (“Peace to Each” “Memory Go, ” I Spit Roses” etc), was stunning.

He preened and strutted, sticking his older man belly and his baldspot out as if he was still a fierce, lithe vampire. And the devotees in the front rows ATE IT. They pawed as his feet, climbed hands up his legs, reached out to touch the Hand of Goth.

And it was brilliant stuff – Peter Murphy owned the boards he stomped. Did you think he wouldn’t? Of course not.

And even though I didn’t know where to look when he stood there with his crotch pretty much right in my face for a full song (woo! Upgraded from a hand on my head!), it was all so bloody beautiful. To hear “Deep Ocean”, “Subway” and an acoustic “Strange Kind of Love” (which segued deliciously into a snippet from Bauhaus classic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”) as well as three others from Bauhaus “Silent Hedges”, “In the Flat Field” “Dark Entries” plus the almost-better-than-Bowie “Ziggy Stardust”…was…worth the wait. And then, just as soon as he arrived, he claimed he had “many more songs he wanted to sing” but that he had to leave because of the curfew. No encore. See ya.

An unkindness of goths turned and looked at each other and mouthed: “BUT WHAT ABOUT ‘CUTS YOU UP’”? No, there was no “Cuts You Up”. There was no encore. We were robbed. But there was the feeling that for a moment or 55 minutes, it was amazing to have Peter Murphy back in black. \m/

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