Saturday Night: Peter Murphy At Numbers
Photos by Jef With One F
March 19, 2011
The way the main man of a solo act walks out onto the stage says a lot about the kind of show you're going to get. Some beg for accolades, some are utterly indifferent. The word that came to mind as Murphy took center stage, flanked by his band, was control.
Control and perhaps regality. Murphy seemed to merely take the applause as his due.
It's easy to forget that the basis of goth, punk, and a dozen other subgenres is simply rock and roll. No matter what heights of experimentation or pure psychedelia an artist may indulge in sequestered in the studio, once they take the stage and the rhythm of the music takes hold even the man who gave us "Bela Lugosi's Dead," is every bit a pillar of pure rock as Mick Jagger. The question is what you cut the liquor with.
The early part of the set was energetic, and our prayers were answered when Murphy delivered new material from the forthcoming album Ninth, such as "Peace of Each" and "Velocity Bird." Though we're going to suffer in the comments for this next statement, we have to admit that we enjoyed Murphy's new material more than almost anything he did on Saturday - three songs total, including "Prince and Old Lady Shade," that are out on iTunes today.
Part of the appeal of the new material's appeal is the strength of guitarist Mark Thwaite. Thwaite remains the Man with No Name of goth guitarists... sort of the Bruce Kulick of the eyeliner set. He's been in The Mission, Combichrist, Imperative Reaction, and a dozen others, including a longtime member of Murphy's touring bands.
After the show, Thwaite told us that as a big fan of Murphy's former Bauhaus partner Daniel Ash, he has struggled to add the hard popness that Ash brought to his later projects to compliment Murphy's modern work.
The result, mixed as always with Murphy's razor-sharp esoteric accessibility as a singer and lyricist, has us more excited for the new album than any goth album in the last decade. It stood toe to toe with the rest of his oeuvre, and we'll fight you over that opinion if we have to.
Once the early set was over and we'd gotten enough pictures of Murphy's lithe form of Murphy, we snaked our way up to the old catwalk at Numbers that houses an almost useless spotlight. Oh, the light still works, but the club's mirror ball sits directly in front of it and cannot be lowered or raised except manually on a ladder.
It's dusty up there, and probably unsafe, but it was pure heaven to sit with a God's eye view of the capacity crowd and watch Murphy work.