Peter Murphy hails to the dark clouds.
Review and Photos by Barry BrecheisenThe darkness and the shadows were made for vampires and all things that go bump in the night. There are those artists that would lose their mystic if you saw them in the bright hours of the day. Who really wants to see the likes of Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson in broad daylight? The same sentiments can also be applied to the reining Prince of Goth, Peter Murphy. Murphy manages to conjure up a forboding quality to the stage that seems not of this world. Bela Lugosi may very well be dead, but his spirit, in fact, still lives inside of Peter Murphy.
Back on tour in support of his eighth studio recording, Dust, the Goth rocker rolled into Chicago for two shows at the Vic Theatre. In the last 4 years Murphy's been quite busy out on the road with both solo tours and confronting his past - reuniting with former Bauhaus bandmates for a brief tour. So it's actually surprising when you realize it has been seven years since he's released a full-fledged album of new material.
Around a decade ago, Murphy moved to Turkey and the results are apparent with the Middle Eastern flavors that permeate throughout his new material. Think Peter Gabriel's Passion album with the dark undertones only Murphy can conjure up. Opening with the first three songs off of Dust, Murphy sets a beautiful tapestry of sound that is driven by the strings of Hugh Marsh's violin. Quickly following with the familar and more upbeat sounds of Love Hysteria's "All Night Long," a number that was a hit in America and helped to establish his solo career and break him from the shadows of Bauhaus. Of course, it seemed very evident as he slithered in and out of the shadows, surrounded by the flood of red and blue light, that he preferred the refuge of these dark spaces.
Surprisingly, neither of the two Chicago shows sold-out, yet it didn't appear to faze him as he seemed content showcasing a healthy offering of new tunes during the fifteen song set. Still, Murphy offered some old favorites like 1990's "Roll Call" and even breaking from his own material to deliver his best known classic, "Cuts You Up." But it was the finale that made it all worthwhile. Bauhaus' version of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" has always been a fan favorite, but who could be prepared for this stark rendition of yet another Bowie classic.
Once again breaking from the setlist, Peter and Hugh Marsh reappeared onstage for one last tune almost completely obliterated by the dark blue light. With the opening lyrics of "Ground Control to Major Tom" it was obvious we were given a rare treat to hear Peter's interpretation of the classic "Space Oddity." Gone was the famous strumming of guitar, which was replaced by Hugh Marsh's magnificent violin. As Murphy occasionally peaked from the dark with a black boa wrapped tightly around his neck, you could almost see a smile from rock's Prince of Darkness.
There's been a lot of talk that "Dust" is a new sound for Peter Murphy. But when you really start listening to the classics of his past you realize there has always been a Middle Eastern vibe through much of his work. Nevertheless, it's nice to have Peter back with a new collection of songs and on the road doing what he does best.
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