It's interesting to watch bands play the same show as a legend whose style they clearly admire and imitate. Last night, Hussle Club and She Wants Revenge performed at Revolution Live prior to Peter Murphy. That he's a major influence was evident, but so were his superior abilities as a singer, and total star power smacked us all in the face after being merely patted by the previous bands. It kind of wasn't fair to whoever opened the night.
OK, now, you can't compare a young band like the Hussle Club to a seasoned performer like the former lead singer of Bauhaus. They were relatively enjoyable. The singer sounded good with his affected British baritone. They sang of death, sacrifice, and shadows with songs titled "Children of the Underground" and a power glam punk anthem, "Fuck Shit Up." The band had some ladies, and their look was costumey without being offensive. It was catchy goth pop. Some highlights included the use of a tambourine and cowbells. Maybe their look was compensating for some lack, but they really did have a presence, and the people were digging their shit.
She Wants Revenge was up next and brought the biggest crowd of the night. The legions of fans of this Interpol-meets-Depeche-Mode band knew every word to every song. It was low-key to say the least. The show went on for what felt like an eternity, and band members looked less than enthused, though they said honestly that this was one of their favorite cities and favorite venues.
Singer Justin Warfield sounded good but didn't fill up the room with anything but sound. He looked bored, and his hand gestures seemed to act out the lyrics. What Peter Murphy does with a raised eyebrow was perhaps the goal of the arm movements, but it didn't quite happen. No one else seemed to care. They loved it. Band members said this was the first time they'd performed the song "Little Stars" live, but it's on YouTube already.
At one point, they got all goth up in that bitch with Adam Bravin playing some organ. The last three songs were dance-worthy and included "Out of Control" and their biggest hit, "Tear You Apart," to which the audience yelled loudly, "I wanna fucking tear you apart!"
Between She Wants Revenge and Peter Murphy's sets, Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" blasted out of the speakers. Finally, the Godfather of Goth arrived with a vampiric-looking crew. They kicked off with Bauhaus' "The Three Shadows Part 1," touched with a little Middle Eastern influence. Murphy, a resident of Turkey, made low guttural sounds.
The smell of cloves filled the air, and fans in black with heavy eyeliner spoke loudly about how long they've been waiting for this moment. A long time. Bauhaus fans weren't disappointed.
"Velocity Bird" brought some serious vogueing and playful prancing. Murphy comfortably moved around the stage, coming right up to the crowd. He announced that there were two Americans on stage and many Americans in the crowd. "America's like home to me, but you all are still crazy." During "Memory Go" and the other epic songs, he spun around like a schoolgirl.
At that point, he removed his blazer and was wearing a regular buttoned-down shirt and fitted slacks. He sang along with the guitar to "A Strange Kind of Love" like a gothic Dylan.
With "I Spit Roses," the lady in front of us, whose bouquet began to poke at us a few minutes earlier, threw them onstage. Murphy tore the petals and blessed the crowd with them. He chatted with those in the front row in a cheeky, flirtatious manner. Megafans obnoxiously felt the need to yell out requests. During "Subway," he held an incredibly long note, and out came the electronic violin.
Murphy announced he was going to "take you further own the rabbit hole." Saying, "Where you forget yourself, you finally see yourself." He continued to sing and even shimmy for the crowd, jumping up and down.
Suddenly, he ran in the back, and then the drummer handed out drumsticks, and it looked like the show was over. Everyone chanted "Peter!" It was all very dramatic. After a few minutes and a costume change, they emerged from the back. Murphy was now wearing a Seinfeld-style puffy shirt and some sort of fez singing "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything."
We thought it was over after he performed "Ziggy Stardust." Murphy removed his hat in reverence before singing the last line, "Ziggy played guitar!" At this point, seriously we thought it was over. The lights were on, the curtain down. Everyone's being herded out like cattle, and then, whaddaya know, they're back and he's singing. Even throws in a line from "Riders on the Storm." It's a momentary psych hoedown. Finally, they get down to it and perform "Cuts You Up" and everyone's satisfied. This was the meat they'd been waiting for.
Before going home, the band bowed and shook hands in a loving manner with the front-row goths. Young performers should take tips from Murphy. He put on a show worth remembering.
Crowd: Old goths, young semigoths
Overheard in the crowd: "Can you get a picture of me with Peter in the background?"
Random detail: The puffy shirt looked kind of cool.