Bauhaus members Murphy and J return for thrilling Northampton show
Sunday night's show, a historic one no less, was billed as '˜40 years of Bauhaus / Ruby celebration featuring David J'.
In other words, half of Bauhaus playing their pioneering debut album In The Flat Field, under a different name.
Not since the famous Lings Forum show in 1982 have these songs been played on home soil.
Murphy last played in town, solo, in 1986. Inevitably a lot of expectation had been heaped on their first of two Roadmender shows.
The Kings of Goth are a cornerstone of Northampton's cultural identity.
Many thought they would never live to see this day, so it was no surprise the Roadmender could be filled twice over for such an occasion.
Support came from Thomas Truax and Desert Mountain Tribe, who both did a regal job of entertaining an impatient audience – and credit must go to Murphy for offering a moment to highlight the current generation of upcoming musicians.
Dry ice and stark blue and white lights blasted fans before four black shadows crept onto stage.
Peter Murphy was resplendent in glittery leather jacket and already full of nervous energy (despite recent ill health which threatened to postpone the show).
He was flanked to his right by bassist extraordinaire David J with the band completed by long-term Murphy cohort Mark Gemini Thwaite on guitar and renowned American drummer Marc Slutsky.
The first half of the set was In The Flat Field in full.
Thwaite began the the industrial soundscapes by reproducing the submarine sonar opening of Double Dare, with fans as one, happily consumed by the darkness.
David J's spider fingers worked their magic – he is still a constant revelation in sound while the band’s collective industrial light and gothic poise attacked the senses.
The album was played faithfully, hitting all the highs and lows as one would expect.
The anguished and angry title track, the post-punk clatter and disco-punk rhythms of Dive and the spacious reflections of The Spy In The Cab.
Lo-fi classic Small Talk Stinks saw Murphy wielding a megaphone for added otherness.
Stigmata Martyr sounded even more intense than on record, with Murphy’s guttural intonations terrifying.
This is music as shock and awe. Talk from Murphy was surprisingly brief, considering the event's significance.
While early on informing fans the band wouldn’t play songs if they shouted out titles, he allowed himself one longer speech. “We’re glad to be back in Northampton”, he began, continuing “But Northampton is poor and there is many homeless. This must change. Get rid of the Conservatives”.
The second half of the show treated fans to a smorgasbord of singles and album tracks from across Bauhaus’ five studio albums.
Murphy hammed it up, Hammer Horror-style for the formative sprawl of Bela Lugusi's Dead and he pulled out his trusty melodica for the dub reggae maelstrom of 1983 single She's In Parties.
“From Kingston to Detroit, this is for Iggy Pop”, was David J's single interjection before Adrenalin, one of those numbers that clearly showed their reverence for Pop's The Idiot.
The band finished their main set with second single Dark Entries - the downshifting horror-punk that was to become a standout influence on their musician followers.
Returning, a brief encore included two key Bauhaus covers, T. Rex's Telegram Sam and their idol's Ziggy Stardust - their sole Top 20 hit.
The finale felt like a celebratory ending to a band legacy it's too difficult to pithily calculate.
It might be a little too hopeful to see the original four on the stage again, but on Sunday night’s evidence there is little wonder this tour is going down so spectacularly well with the public.
This evening will live long in the memory of everyone in attendance.
Murphy, J, Thwaite and Slutsky return to the Roadmender on Thursday, December 6 for a second show. Tickets are sold out.
Peter Murphy played:
In the Flat Field
A God in an Alcove
Spy in the Cab
Small Talk Stinks
Burning from the Inside
Bela Lugosi's Dead
She's in Parties