House of Blues Anaheim
Peter Murphy and his band came through Anaheim on the U.S. leg of the tour supporting his latest release, Unshattered. Murphy is an impressive performer who is very theatrical and flamboyant. He has a wonderful, deep voice that he augments by moving his microphone, creating intriguing vocal effects. Similar to a dancer, his entire body is used to communicate with the audience.
This evening, he wore a floor-length waistcoat, whirling its tails in the air as he sang. His platinum blond hair was spiked high, resembling a cockatoo. The oddest accessory was a large walking stick that he used occasionally, walking around the stage and wrapping himself around.
While the quartet’s overall performance was good, the set’s song selection wasn’t conducive to a live concert setting because too many of the slow, atmospheric pieces had their emotions and moods conveyed too well, draining the room’s energy. The first half of the show also suffered because the sound guy really screwed up Murphy’s vocals; they were set too low, making it hard to hear him over the music.
After playing four tracks in a row from the new album, they played the poignant love song “I’ll Fall With Your Knife”, which got the crowd very engaged by this point with it’s non-verbal sing-a-long. Then the tempo picked up for “The Line Between the Devil’s Teeth.” Opening act Sarah Fimm came out to sing with Murphy on “Huuvola.” Their voices complemented each other well, which is most likely why they sang two duets this evening. Murphy joined Fimm on her piano bench for a song during her set.
For the first encore, Murphy and guitarist Mark Gemini-Thwaite both played acoustic guitar “Strange Kind of Love” and “Indigo Eyes.” The rest of the band, bassist Jeff Schartoff and drummer Justin Bennet, joined them for “Hit Song”
The crowd wasn’t ready to leave and neither was the band. For the second encore, they came out with a purpose, cutting loose on a blistering cover of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life.” It was a natural for Murphy’s vocals and mannerisms, reminiscent of Pop, while remaining a natural extension of himself. It was too bad that they didn’t play more upbeat rockers in their set because they certainly had the capacity to deliver the goods.
Their final encore of the night was “Cuts You Up.” It got the greatest reaction of the night from the audience, which is no surprise since it was his biggest single coming off of Deep, the most popular album of his post-Bauhaus career. It is one of my personal favorites as well, almost purely on the strength of the line: “You pour yourself over me like the sun through the blinds”.
While I did enjoy a few songs, there were more misses than hits for me, a casual Peter Murphy fan who is admittedly not aware of much of his solo material. I’m certain the hardcore fans got more out of the show than I and I would never dissuade them from seeing him. For those not as devoted, I would have a reservation unless you enjoyed and were familiar with his current material. Murphy’s performance is good enough that I might go see him again if I could get a sense beforehand of the song selection.
Gliding Like A Whale
Piece Of You
The First Stone
I’ll Fall With Your Knife
Deep Ocean, Vast Sea
The Line Between The Devils Teeth
Huuvola (performed with Sarah Fimm)
Thelma Sings To Little Nell
The Weight of Love
Strange Kind of Love- Guitar
Lust For Life (Iggy Pop Cover)
Cuts You Up