December 13, 2016 Peter Murphy Haunts City Winery, NYC 12-11-16
When a concert sells out quickly in New York City, what is a Rock icon to do but add a late show? That is just what former Bauhaus Vocalist Peter Murphy did, for the second time this year during each leg of his Stripped tour. In April, he played two packed shows at Le Poisson Rouge in one night. Murphy brought the same magic to City Winery’s New York City outpost on Sunday, December 11, 2016 with legions of fans eager to experience his work reimagined in an intimate setting, performed acoustically.
Call him the “Godfather of Goth,” harken back on his time as the frontman for the legendary band Bauhaus, or recall his extensive career as a solo artist in his own right, and each reflection would be accurate. The successful Stripped tour covered the United States with 31 shows in April and May, followed by a tour of Europe in the October. November brought 11 more US shows with the NY stop as the penultimate before wrapping things up in Baltimore.
New York City’s only working winery, City Winery, was the perfect spot for the Stripped tour: elegant, expansive ,and whimsical, just like Murphy himself. The 59-year-old perpetually lean and lanky Murphy appeared on stage with a smirk and those exquisite cheekbones to evoke flashbacks of his cameo in the Maxell Cassette TV commercials from the ’80s. In fine voice, Murphy was playful as he interacted with the audience like they were a room full of close pals; “I left England a long time ago,” quipped Murphy, referring to Brexit. “But you fuckers voted for Trump? Are you fucking crazy?”
Flanked by the abundantly talented musicians – Emilio China (bass and violin) and John Andrews (guitar), this trio was formidable. Both longtime collaborators of Murphy, China has played with his live band since 2011 and was featured on Murphy’s 2015 album, Lion. Andrews was featured on Murphy’s 2011 Ninth album and the live touring ensemble. With comradery that can only be formed through creativity and solidified by many miles on the road together, the bond of this trio was obvious. When it comes to Murphy, acoustic does not equal low energy. His unbridled enthusiasm belies his age as he swan-dived, preened, struck poses, and covered all corners of the stage during his 80 minute set.
Opening with an ethereal version of “Cascade,” the set featured fan favorites that spanned many moons of Murphy’s extensive career including “Indigo Eyes,” “Marlene Dietrich’s Favourite Poem,” and “Never Fall Out.” The crowd responded to a beautiful version of “The Bewlay Brothers” a David Bowie cover, which Murphy talked about after the song’s final notes faded; “That was a tribute to David Bowie,” he said. “We send our love and prayers to Iman, who lives in the city somewhere. This is a grieving period for all of us.”
Before things could get too heavy, Murphy returned to poking fun in the political arena and our recent election. “It’s fucking crazy. I’m an artist and I’m going to take you away from all of this because we have a ‘Strange Kind of Love,’” Murphy purred going into his smash hit.
Plucking from the songbook of Bauhaus, Murphy enthralled the audience with versions of “King Volcano” and “Kingdom’s Coming” as well as manning the drums on an intoxicating version of “Silent Hedges.” The intensity of the songs reimagined proved to be powerful and stood the test of time in every sense.
The large front windows of City Winery face the stage and, at one point, Murphy waved to the windows; “There’s a lady watching from the street. That song was for you,” he said. “And it is free of charge. Fuck these prices!”
A haunting version of “Gaslit” ended his set and Murphy departed the stage, waving goodbye, followed by China, then Andrews. Applause and cheering grew to a crescendo. When Murphy returned to the stage after a very brief pause, he picked up a guitar. A fan screamed “All We Ever Wanted” and Murphy answered, “You got it,” and broke into the song. The final encore was the Bauhaus classic “Hollow Hills,” which carried a reverent feel. Murphy returned to a drum during the song and China kneeled on the stage with his bass, while an intense Andrews manned his guitar on the other edge of the stage. He bid the audience adieu by saying, “I fucking love you. I’m done. See ya. You’ve had enough,” he joked.
Followers could never have enough of seeing Peter Murphy live. After a well-deserved rest for this powerhouse trio, fans can only count down the minutes to the next adventure Murphy and company will share.