First things first. I’m not actually returning to the blog just yet. But I nearly forgot that Bauhaus’ final reunion performance (that we know of) is scheduled for tomorrow night at the Hollywood Palladium. So I had this unfinished post in the queue … or at least early fragments of it … and really felt compelled to get it finished and posted before their “finale.”
Sunday will be the last of three reunion shows announced a few months back. It’s their first live shows together in nearly 13 years. And this final bow could quite possibly be the last one ever, depending on whether Peter Murphy’s health holds up (he had a heart attack in August), and/or the fourpiece choose to continue in any form of expanded touring.
Bauhaus, for those unfamiliar, are considered the godfathers of Goth rock, a.k.a. darkwave, a.k.a. coldwave, etc. Although those labels are vastly appropriate, these Brits, now celebrating four-plus decades, have proven to be so much more than the so-called genre they “created.”
They’ve only crafted five albums, their first four released between 1980-83, their fifth and last in ’08, following a second reunion. They originally broke up in ’83, and reformed for their first round, dubbed the “Resurrection Tour” in ’98. Not to boast, but I was there for that first performance at the same Hollywood Palladium. At the time, I was living in San Francisco, so I had to trek to Hollywood to catch this then-first performance in 15 years. It was well worth it.
Dates and reminiscences aside, it’s a tricky beast to describe Bauhaus’ style-infused audio legacy. Much of the Gothic overtones come from their seminal first single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” which will forever rank as the dark arts anthem for generations that have passed, and for those yet to come. But a majority of their output leans in a eclectic tension of post alternative rock, dub reggae fusion, and glam-splattered guitar licks.
And then there’s Murphy’s spirited vocal bellows, residing somewhere between Iggy Pop and David Bowie, mixed with a bit of slick and sexy vampiric couture and razor sharp banshee howls.
It’s a stripped down, nearly minimalist rock that shoves all these styles into a blazing fourpiece boil, intensifying a simplicity into an economic intensity of surreal sound and furious fury.
Below, you’ll find the entire show from night one of this current reunion, which occurred on 11.03.19. I was off to stage-right (which is left to you and me), and there was a stack of amps and rail blocking some of the view. So Kevin Haskins power drums tend to be visually jailed a bit. And David J’s dubbed-down bass peers in and out from behind said-amps. Daniel Ash’s glamour guitars are way off on the other side of the stage, but he’s mostly visible. Although, I do wish he was a bit closer, particularly when he busted out the sax. And Murphy … he wasn’t shy about moving all about, often playing to the sides just as much as the front and center (see pic/clip below).
That said, the show runs close to an hour and a half, split by an encore, which is where I separated the footage. Most of the material comes from their ’80 debut “In the Flat Field,” as it should. But there’s a few gems that haven’t graced the stage since at least ’83, “The Three Shadows, Pt. 2” and “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes,” to name a couple.
I realize, probably, that most may not know who Bauhaus is, nor their incredible no-nonsense, uncompromising contribution to music history. And of course, I wouldn’t expect everyone to take an immediate liking to them. They’re a bit less polished and shiney, more akin to the serrated side of the aural blade. But this stuff is powerful, containing a jolt and kick unlike any other. It really gets underneath your skin. Plus, these guys were literally here first. So there’s that.
Whether you’re a longtime devotee, or new to the party, Bauhaus is well worth checking out, preferably live and in-person tomorrow night at the Hollywood Palladium. But if that’s not an option, the following footage is the next best thing.
Bauhaus’ full set @ the Hollywood Palladium on 11.03.19.
Bauhaus’ full encore @ the Hollywood Palladium on 11.03.19.
Here’s the setlist for the show. I hear that on night two they added “Passion of Lovers” to the roster, which I would’ve loved to have seen. Perhaps, that will happen tomorrow night. I’m not sure what they’ve got planned. But if it’s anything like night one, I’m sure it will be special.
Also, Bauhaus performed a cover of Iggy Pop’s “Sister Midnight,” which to my knowledge, has never been recorded. And if it has, it’s definitely not on Spotify. So I’ve substituted Iggy’s original in its place.