So, seminal goth rockers Bauhaus re-united for Coachella this year. As a devoted Bauhaus maniac back in the day, I was excited that they were on the bill, but I didn’t take it too seriously. I was pretty certain it would be a somewhat sad case of dusting off the old codgers and rolling ‘em out for one last trip down gothic nostalgia lane.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Bauhaus rocked ass. Their’s was easily the most convincing main stage performance of the weekend.
Here’s what happened. First, they went straight for the jugular, as it were, and opened with their biggest number, “Bela Lugosi Is Dead.” David J, Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins slowly built the vibe of inky darkness, smoke rolling out over the stage, and the trademark white lights glared starkly out into the desert night. Then, Peter Murphy made his entrance, bringing the goth HARDCORE, suspended from the rafters by his feet, wrapped in black ribbons, his hair bleached white, arms crossed over his breast like a vampire, and performed the entire song, bellowing out that brilliant “Undead, undead, undead, undead” upside down like a bat.
I ask you, how pimp is that?
Just name me one band that would have the stones to freaking totally embrace their schtick and, without winking even a little bit, unflinchingly rock the high drama?
Gentle readers, there is none.
Peter Murphy, Undead
Maybe it was the dully perfect, no chances taken performance Weezer gave just before them, but personally, I like a little showmanship in my rock show, and Bauhaus brought it bigtime. They went on to roll out one classic number after another – “In The Flat Field”, “God In An Alcove”, “Silent Hedges”, “She’s In Parties”, “The Passion of Lovers”, “Rose Garden Funeral of Sores”, and “Stigmata Martyr” – without one single false note, or missed beat, and without breaking character for a second.
Peter Murphy, dressed in flowing black gaucho-style trousers and a form-fitting ruched black shirt, posed and vogued through every moment of the performance with totally ludicrous theatricality, climbing into a tower of gothitude at stage-right now and then, or posing with his bamboo staff (yes. A staff!) holding his arms up crucifixion-style. All the while delivering the creepy as if it were 1982. I know I’ve already gone all the way with the superlatives in this review, but I’m not kidding one bit when I say that it was absolutely brilliant.
As Peter Murphy left the stage like the diva he is, he tossed a huffy “Now you can say you were there” over his shoulder like he had just delivered the second coming of the Christ Child, or some shit.
He was kind of right.
David J, Kevin Haskins, and Peter Murphy in the tower
Peter Murphy with Staff and Daniel Ash
All photos by Jaime Nichols, 2005. Re-use by permission only.