Live Review: Northampton icons Bauhaus triumph at Alexandra Palace
This is actually happening. No dream, no Halloween-inspired spoof. Northampton’s gothic overlords are unearthed once more, all of them intact and seemingly in fine fettle.
It’s certainly a long way from The Romany to Alexandra Palace.
Not physically (66 miles, fact fans), but in terms of those early footsteps in 1979 in a provincial pub to here, the cavernous playground of the musical elite.
It was never a certainty such a night would arrive.
Despite (or because of?) a fractious ‘00s reunion, it seemed we would never see the four black princes back on stage.
The dots were starting to reconnect in 2018, when singer Peter Murphy and bassist David J bandied together to tour Bauhaus’ debut album In The Flat Field.
It was a triumph. It sparked something and within a year the gang was back and playing Hollywood.
Their arrival at Alexandra Palace though had been severely delayed due to the pandemic, much could have prevented it ever taking place.
So, it’s no surprise that the mood is jovial beforehand. People have travelled from all over Europe for this.
Their pioneering brand of post-punk has always a universal appeal and its legacy is clear within support act Hope’s music.
The Berlin quartet begin our evening with suitably dystopian soundscapes, delivered with cold wave aplomb.
Their guitarist uses a bow on some tracks, the drummer has got the mallets out, the singer is channeling Nico from the other side of the Milky Way.
It does the job of mood-setting to perfection.
When Bauhaus finally prowl onto stage they immediately look like they mean business.
The theatre is open. Their experimental musical expressionism takes in German art, glam rock, gothic poetry, horror films and much more besides.
Their wear these influences on their sharply-attired sleeves, weaving the source material into their own world.
Never afraid of a cover, they begin tonight with their take on John Cale’s macabre Rosegarden Funeral Of Sores.
Indeed, they lean heavily on their 1980 / In The Flat Field output for the first third of the set.
It’s a sight to behold, music does not come much more powerful than this work.
Daniel Ash on guitar looks and sounds superb and highly energised, coaxing all manner of sounds from his Telecaster.
On In The Flat Field, Peter Murphy begins to truly prowl the stage, taking the frantic energy of the song and launching it into the crowd, who respond in kind.
In Fear Of Fear sees Ash switch to saxophone, while Murphy bashes at a vintage synth - the kaleidoscopic sound all succinctly held together by the metronomic rhythms of Kevin Haskins.
She’s In Parties results in the evening’s first mass singalong.
The song’s dubby breakdown brings another ‘wow’ moment - Murphy on drum pads and coolly blowing on a melodica.
David J gets his set highlight with the Bowie-esque goth-funk of Kick In The Eye - hips swinging everywhere - before a relatively restrained version of their best-known song Bela Lugosi’s Dead sneaks into view and makes a lot of dreams come true.
Now in full-flight, they fire off classic song after classic song, leaving the stage to a hard-hitting version of second single Dark Entries.
The encore sees them pay dues to their 1970s heroes - an endearing rendition of Iggy Pop’s Sister Midnight, plus their singles Telegram Sam and Ziggy Stardust.
“Flash of youth. Shoot out of darkness. Factory town”.
They choose to come back for a second encore with the maudlin, almost nostalgic All We Ever Wanted Was Everything from 1982.
Thoughts return to those early days growing up in Northamptonshire and dreaming of largesse. “Oh to be the cream” sighs Murphy over acoustic guitar.
The thousands here would agree they prove tonight how they are, indeed, the choicest cut. All WE want is more of it.
Rosegarden Funeral of Sores
In the Flat Field
A God in an Alcove
In Fear of Fear
Spy in the Cab
Terror Couple Kill Colonel
She's in Parties
Kick in the Eye
Bela Lugosi's Dead
The Man With the X-Ray Eyes
The Passion of Lovers
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything