Peter Murphy at The Assembly - Leamington Spa - 10 October 2009

Concert review by Aline Giordano - October 2009

Peter Murphy live in Leamington SpaI grew up listening to Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy in the eighties and then his solo material. I saw him play live in Paris in 1993 for the promotion of Deep. Sixteen years later, he stopped in the UK for three dates after an intensive US tour and before embarking on an equally substantial European tour. I caught a glimpse of the godfather of goth at The Assembly in Leamington Spa.

There seems to be an underlying goth revival happening at the moment. Take for example the ever lasting popularity of The Cure abroad, the increasing popularity of Joy Division songs and the just released tribute album to Love and Rockets (ex-Bauhaus) entitled New Tales To Tell featuring artists such as The Flaming Lips, Monster Magnet and Black Francis. A revival for some, but for me this is more a continuation if not a loyal dedication. And given the few tee-shirts of The Mission and Christian Death floating around the venue, it looks like I was not the only one. A venue, perhaps unsurprisingly rather empty. Goth has grown in popularity abroad while it got repeatedly belittled by the media in England. So indeed, it was not surprising that Murphy did not attract a vast crowd in Leamington spa.

Leaving his goth theatricality behind him Peter Murphy came on stage dressed in black jeans, a black hooded long sleeve tee-shirt and a short jacket with a bright red fluffy feather scarf. He was relaxed and chatty, reminiscing about his father commenting on his debuting career with Bauhaus. He talked about the complicity between him and his sister at one of his first gigs. She was in the crowd then. She was in the crowd on the night. Peter was addressing her.

The Assembly stage felt a bit small for an artist as energetic and flamboyant as Murphy. At one point he was marching in a circle at the centre of the stage like a lion in a cage… Perhaps he was pacing himself before the next burst of energy. Four songs in the set list and he half jokingly declared that he was already “knackered”… and yet the gig would last for another one and a half hours.

I came to see Peter Murphy hoping that he would play some Bauhaus songs alongside his solo material. He has such a vast repertoire to choose from his Bauhaus years or solo career. He also recently recorded and released cover songs. So it was difficult to predict what he would choose for us on the night. There were minor disappointments: He did not play Cuts You Up or All Night Long but the encores made the two hour car journey all worth while.

It all started with a great semi acoustic version of Bela Lugosi’s Dead, then Murphy went on talking about his family, his Irish descent, his six brothers and sisters, and especially his brother Daniel who has always taken any opportunity, any family reunion to stand up and sing a song. A very humble Murphy introduced his big brother to "the stage that he always really deserved” to sing the Irish song The Fields of Athenry. It was a family affair. Daniel Murphy was performing onstage with little brother Peter on superb backing vocals and behind me the Murphy family was clearly enjoying themselves. It was moving. Somehow I had hoped for something special knowing that Murphy had been brought up in the Northampton area, but I could not have imagined we would be treated to such a unique moment. As Daniel was leaving the stage, the band moved on to Bauhaus’ She’s In Parties, a very powerful version that got the (small) crowd (at last!) going.

I had the feeling that even greater moments were about to come. I was not disappointed. The second encore opened with Ziggy Stardust (Bowie’s cover version released by Bauhaus in 1982 as a single), then followed Joy Division’s Transmission. I felt at home. I was dancing to music that had regularly permeated my ears for over 25 years now. It was a magical moment, another milestone in my live experience journey. By the end of Transmission all were now lying on the stage and Peter Murphy closed the encore, still lying, with Bowie’s Space Oddity: A very well-earned rest.

To view more photos of the concert, visit… Aline Giordano's photo website

For more details, visit… Peter Murphy's website

Photograph © Aline Giordano 2009