Peter Murphy | 06.24.14

live peter-murphy_smHe offered some examples of the acrobat of years past, but mostly restricted himself to pogoing, posing, and a few stretches of his long, limber body.




live peter-murphy_500

The Summit Music Hall, Denver

To people of a certain age, Peter Murphy means “Cuts You Up” and numerous other popular songs on radio. To an earlier generation, he is the lead singer of Bauhaus, and some of the more indelible songs of the 1980s. The band lasted only a few years but left marks that are deep and infinite. Finally, there is Murphy the cult icon, inspiration for characters in graphic novels and known for his intense personality. All three of them showed up when Murphy took the stage at 11 p.m.

The late hour of the show was to give concertgoers a chance to see both Murphy’s show and Nick Cave, who was also appearing in Denver. This gave some time to crowd-gawk and feel both old and young at the same time. The average audience member fell someplace in their late 30s or early 40s. These were not just one-off concertgoers who put the kids on ice for the night and went to see “that guy who sang that song while they were in high school.” These were people who never quite gave up that post-punk perfection Murphy represented for all those years. There was plenty of leather and piercings, but there were also the middle-aged people who had moved on to jobs and children. As the night progressed, they seemed to age backward. There were wild gyrations to the DJ’s ’80s tracks. I also saw several parents who brought their pre-teen kids. I envy those kids, seeing an icon still in good form. (My first concert—with my mom—was Liberace, and that is an icon of another sort.)

Murphy took the stage, launching in the new single “Hang Up.” His newer material from the just-released Lion was heavily featured throughout the show. It is a little harder than some of the ’90s music, though no less dense and mystical. It provided a counterpoint to songs from his earlier solo career, such as “Deep Ocean Vast Sea.” Just as he was constantly giving stage directions to the band and the unseen sound techs, Murphy drew the willing audience into his grip, offering them select hits and lush samples from his catalog, especially his most recent albums. If the crowd was hungry for Bauhaus songs, they did not show it until showering the band with intense applause after an extended version of “She’s in Parties.” No “Bela Lugosi”—and nobody seemed to notice.

Peter Murphy, often described as a “singer and sometimes instrumentalist,” mostly played singer throughout the night. He offered some examples of the acrobat of years past, but mostly restricted himself to pogoing, posing, and a few stretches of his long, limber body. Like his musical cousin Morrissey, he has to hold the stage by force of personality and gesture alone. Murphy, 36-plus years into this game, is still fascinating to watch.

The new album is a vibrant reminder of the presence that Murphy brings, especially when backed by a great band. Lion is one of the better albums to come out of any of the members of that late-’70s/early-’80s club in years. The album sounded even better on stage, despite Summit’s somewhat tricky acoustics. Murphy’s band was the same one that toured with him during the Mr. Moonlight Tour (which featured all Bauhaus material): Nick Lucero on bass and Emilio DeZefalo-China on drums, with Andee Blacksugar ably replacing long-time guitarist Mark Thwaite.

In talking with the singer after the show, I asked him how he continued to be “on” all this time—what keeps him going? His simple answer: “It’s the honor and the privilege of still having an audience that will show up.” And Murphy is needed. While he certainly honors his past, he does not let it define him. His career is only in mid-life; there are certainly more good things to come. | Jim Dunn

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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