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The Kettle Black

Bauhaus @ The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Ga 9/14/98

by Kimi Crivellone

Considering I was only about ten years old when Bauhaus met their demise, and I didn't discover their music until five years later, the opportunity to see Bauhaus live on their recent Resurrection tour was, understandably, a dream come true. Having seen Peter Murphy once, back in 1990, on tour for his solo album "Deep," I halfway knew what to expect, though I was truly amazed by the raw energy and fresh charisma exhibited by a band that has not played together, as a cohesive unit, for fifteen years.

The pre-show excitement in the crowd was contagious, especially with the realization that there was no opening act. It was clear that it would be a magical night when the band opened with "Double Dare," featuring bassist David J., guitarist Daniel Ash, and drummer Kevin Haskins attacking their instruments while lead vocalist Peter Murphy's distorted image appeared on a black and white monitor onstage. Few frontmen could match a stage presence like Peter's, powerful enough to engage an audience even when not physically on the stage. "I dare you to be real," Peter urged the audience, his voice emitting those trademark thunderstorms.

The band then launched into a series of classics, including "In the Flat Field," "She's in Parties," "The Passion of Lovers," and even a surprise cover of a Dead Can Dance song, "Severance." The performances of the songs resembled scenes, complete with Peter's tantalizingly discreet onstage wardrobe changes. Ever the theatrical showman, Peter took on the persona of a wicked master of ceremonies at a bizarre cabaret. Highlights of the show included Peter's sultry dance amidst low-hanging, glaring light bulbs during the slow and mellow "Hollow Hills," and the sexy camp of "Boys," in which Peter donned a black feather boa and sang to his reflection with a handheld mirror; one cannot say that Bauhaus are without their sense of humor.

The band closed their set with a particularly vigorous "Dark Entries." Daniel's driving guitar was the perfect accompaniment to Peter, prancing about like a confident cat with a secret, the audience dying to find out what it is.

During the first encore, Peter mentioned that this was the 23rd show, and that it was one of the best crowds of the tour, thanking the audience for encouraging the band to maintain the energy level required by their performances. Indeed, the Atlanta crowd was certainly enthusiastic, yet not oppressive, assuming a gracious and reverential attitude toward the band, and toward the other fans. After the band's covers of Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" and David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust," the second encore arrived with the unmistakable onset of David J.'s sinister bass line, Kevin's ceremonial percussion, and Daniel's scraping guitar. Then Peter arrived onstage, twirling around in a black cape, bellowing like a warlock. The ethereal "Bela Lugosi's Dead," undoubtedly their most popular song, is the song that has given its listeners the shivers - in that good sort of way, and it was even more spectacular live. An unexpected third encore consisted of an acoustic version of "Spirit." As the four bandmembers sang "We love our audience," the audience responded with gratitude, and was rewarded with one last encore, the twisted rockabilly of "Telegram Sam."

As if the performance weren't enough of a spiritual experience, the venue itself was the perfect setting for a Bauhaus show. The Tabernacle, located in downtown Atlanta, is a converted church and was the site of the House of Blues during the 1996 Olympic Games. The funky religious atmosphere, complete with colorfully painted walls and ceilings and a chandelier, lent itself well to the feeling that some sort of sacred ritual was being conducted.

Bauhaus may have helped to establish the dark wave/gothic rock music movement, but they have always been, and proved during their extraordinary Resurrection tour, to be rooted in rock 'n' roll. Their music is at once dreamy and nightmarish, hypnotic and emotional, dragging you deep to those dark places you don't want to visit alone. With Bauhaus as your soundtrack, being scared of the dark is awfully fun.

 

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