Live in Black and White: Former BAUHAUS/TONES ON TAIL duo return as POPTONE

Sixteen or so years ago in Toronto, I sat on an uncomfortable sofa upstairs from the Opera House, making uncomfortable chit-chat in a mildly uncomfortable interview with Bauhaus/Tones on Tail’s Daniel Ash, on the occasion of his debut solo album Coming Down. I faintly recall the Dandy Warhols coming into that room afterward and making words with Courtney and Zia, but that’s about all. I also remember trying to push deep my swooning and dig deep for good questions (I likely failed) before eventually taking leave of the spiky-haired, chiseled-cheeked guitarist after my assigned 20 minutes.

I LOVED Bauhaus and Tones on Tail and Love & Rockets, the three bands that both included Ash and Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins. I was a goth kid. Anything that grew from the black velvet-y┬áBauhaus tree was required listening. (Even if there were one too many Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeahhhhhs in TOT’s hit “Go!” But, whatever, I digress.)

So when Ash and Haskins returned IRL to Vancouver (after a decade a half, and a postponed date) it felt a bit uncomfortable – they’ve now named themselves Poptone and Haskins’ daughter Diva is in the band, whyyyyyy? But it also felt exciting, because any chance to hear old goth stuff you thought you’d never hear again live is a good chance. Right?

We were rewarded, at least with a diverse setlist. Starting with Love & Rockets’ “I Feel Speed”, moving into a Diva-heavy “Haunted (When the Minutes Drag)”, then “Mirror People” and a crunchy ToT “Christian Says” and that song “GO!” before the kicker, the L&R hit of “Ball of Confusion”, cheered the room. A┬álone Bauhaus track, “Slice of Life”, did make us swoon again.

Still, the vibe in the room never rose above lukewarm – Diva’s face was stone, Ash didn’t really speak but did rock a fine mohawk and white specs that glowed in the blacklight, and Haskins just handsomely kept the thing moving. But the diehards died harder at hearing their old faves. And at the end of it, the band looked legitimately moved by the love, beaming out smiles and warm waves goodbye and thanks. Maybe they had fun after all? It was an odd show, to be sure, but this old goth still appreciated it very, very much. \m/

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