March 1, 2019 Peter Murphy & David J Bring 2 Nights of Bauhaus To Oriental Theater Denver, CO
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a saying everyone should be aware of and familiar with, but how does one truly apply it to their own lives or artistic endeavors? How does someone have a strong facade and yet deliver so much more between the figurative covers? The exact map to getting there may be a mystery till this day, but one can come close by watching the life and accomplishments of Peter Murphy. On the covers he is revered as the Godfather of Goth, the charismatic and haunting frontman of Goth’s most revered band, Bauhaus. The man who helped forge a sound that not only helped influence generations of artists but gave a face to an image still carried forward to this day. However, the layers in between are truly boundless.
When Bauhaus released their debut album, In The Flat Field, in 1980, the soundtrack within it not only sparked a whole musical movement but that raw, gritty, dark, wide, and Punk-ish sound can still be heard to this very day. While it defined the sound of Bauhaus, the album drew a perfect line between paying homage to the artist’s roots and brought it into a whole new state of being. From the feedback laden, Punk-paced start of “Dark Entries” to the macabre-esque nature of “Nerves,” this album is not a hodgepodge of formulaic singles, it was a journey that the listener had to listen to in order to truly get the full journey. That very idea must be the very foundation for Peter Murphy’s current tour celebrating forty years since the masterpiece was released, appropriately named The Ruby Tour. If the announcement of that tour was not enough to send the legions of various generational fans mad in anxiety, the detail of Bauhaus Bassist David J joining the tour was sure to be the proverbial cherry on top.
A tour that began January 16th out in Anaheim, California, toward the tail-end it came to Denver, Colorado’s Oriental Theater, for not one, but two sold out evenings – February 26th and 27th. The second show added due to the overwhelming demand, every night, despite the cold, the fans showed up in droves and anxiously piled in. The sheer variance in age for fans was a testament to the longevity of the band as fans as young as what appeared to be five to those who were kids when In The Flat Field was released could be found talking about their first encounters and Bauhaus/Peter Murphy laden memories.
To kick off the evening, fans were treated to one of the most unique and honest performances an audience can ask for. As the lights dimmed and the house music faded, in paraded the one and only Visantos. The audience at first had no idea what was in store as this Gothic drag queen armed with paddle in hand, and the razor sharp wit and tongue, walked her way onto the stage interacting with the audience on the way.
Visantos may hail from New Orleans where she owns the Funeral Gallery in the French Square, but her story far from begins in ‘The Big Easy.’ As she coursed through the evening with wickedly quick humor and anecdotes, she also delivered songs that had the whole audience in silent aw and reflection. However, warning be made that if you are one of the fans that can be heard talking, you will definitely be put on the spot. This performance is not to be missed and perfectly tied into the night as Visantos documents how Peter Murphy influenced her art and life.
The night was about to take a more heavy tone as next on stage was London based Rock band Desert Mountain Tribe. This trio’s numbers are as deceptive as the short length of their history. Their sound was so massive and engulfing it was hard to believe there were only 3 members as every sonic wave washed over the audience.
While this band only released their debut album, Either That or the Moon, in 2016 and their sophomore release, Om Parvat Mystery, in June of 2018 (not to mention a bassist change recently), the band is so sync with each other every instrument truly feeds off the other. One trait stands out about this band, while one could easily (and seems most do) lump them into the Rock category, there is so much more to their sound. Once can easily hear the psychedelic and entrancing grooves in each track. Many may have been seeing this band for the first time, but are now completely hooked.
With two amazing openers, the night had finally come to the climax as Peter Murphy, David J, and company hit the stage in darkness and the familiar feedback of “Double Dare” creeped through the venue. It may be forty years later, but David J’s approach on bass is still a driving heart beat to an amazing masterpiece. Murphy showed why he is not only the voice the legendary band, but the very charisma of it. His presence commanded the audience and his voice gave every song a breath of life.
These thoughts in mind, the night was a chance to see a historical album played to its finest. From the frantic and almost manic pace of “Dive” to the captivating guitar/bass exchange of the title track, every song was not only done justice but some may even a slight more edge that comes from experience. Don’t worry loyal fans, they still played classics such as “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and the infamous “Ziggy Stardust” cover, but the highlight in this tour is being able to make a foundational album in all its intricacies still as prolific now as it was forty years ago, and has truly withstood the test of time.
With the Ruby Tour all but concluded, Murphy is still out with a residency at The Chapel in San Francisco in March where he will be showcasing his solo albums, and nights of Bauhaus, in full. Additionally, one show at the residency will be a tribute to David Bowie on March 26th where he will be playing select songs from the Bowie catalog. As far as the Ruby Tour, it is not often one gets to see a pinnacle album played in its entirety, but when this one is seen, it is literally a guided timeline to a whole genre, and that in itself is a once in a lifetime experience.