Concert Review: Peter Murphy, November 24, Lee’s Palace


I often feel there are two halves to my concert life: the first period was from 1997 – 1999 and the second from 2007 – present. The first time I saw Peter Murphy perform was in 1998, well after he had moved to Turkey, converted to Islam with his wife and two children, and become a musical legend of gargantuan proportions by today’s standards. In some ways that Bauhaus tour in ’98 was a harbinger of things to come in recent years, with everyone’s bass player and their dog reuniting for some easy tour money. But as we have often noted here at the Panic Manual, music is cyclical, and everyone is in a nostalgic mood again more than willing to follow their beloved acts of youth to the opposite side of the globe.

Let me just say that I’m happy that this wasn’t a Bauhaus reunion tour. I’m happy Peter Murphy is still making new music. I’m happy he’s still the showman he always was. I’m happy he’s plodding forward in middle-age instead of reliving the past. Just as with Japan’s David Sylvian, Peter Murphy’s solo efforts have long since surpassed the sophistication of the band that first launched him to fame. Ninth is Murphy’s first album in seven years, and it is intensely listenable.

The album was rattled off in just over a week, was financed by a Liechtenstein-ian fan, and I can absolutely confirm after last night’s sold-out performance at Lee’s Palace, plays well live. Murphy seems to have found a new energy here that seems to have more aesthetically in common with acts like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (The Prince & Old Lady Shade, especially) than his “goth” roots. Bottom line, he is not doing the same thing over and over again, which is something that may have alienated many of his fans in the early 90’s (some may mark 1995’s Cascade as the last palatable album), but which is a fantastic artistic achievement and liberation. Good for him, I say. His approach through non-meddling fan-based album-investment is intriguing to me and is maybe just another nail in the coffin of the old artist-label model.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. It’s all fine and good that he’s still making and performing good new music, but at age 54, what does he look like these days? I’ve explained before how I find it puzzling that everyone expects performers and celebrities to live in hermetically age-defiant-sealed bubbles (I’m very guilty of this myself)–when you go to see an act whose heyday was 20 years ago, there are waves of gasps at different levels throughout the audience. I have to admit, a part of me whinged when I realized there was a classic back male baldness pattern thing happening and that his dance moves (for some unsettling and irrational reason) reminded me of the Hitachi Maxwell cassette tapes ad campaign set to old-man ballet. After about five minutes though, all of that had melted away. It helped that his band is tremendous, with a guitar player resembling Trent Reznor in his bulkier days and a violinist/bassist that almost stole the entire show. What’s more, Murphy seems to have tremendous regard for them, further demonstrating that a lead singer’s gradual introduction of the band, member-by-member, is a good thing to incorporate into a show.

Peter Murphy still has more sex in his pinky finger nail than most anyone has throughout their entire constitution. When he stares at you, there’s no one else, and his deep seductive siren song can lure even the most macho guy into fits of exclamation…”PETER…YOU ARE GORRR-GEOUS!” Hands attempting to stroke his legs onstage prompted an impromptu “Do You Want to Touch Me” ditty, and it was all confirmed. This guy would probably impregnate someone just by *looking* at them. The proof is in the stage-jumping….Ziggy Stardust saw one ardent female fan leap onstage until the bitter end of the set. The result was a second long ass encore.

This setlist was taken from the Philadelphia show so there may be some inaccuracies. It more or less looks right to me though.

All Night Long
Velocity Bird
Peace to Each
Memory Go
A Strange Kind of Love
I’ll Fall With Your Knife
Too Much 21st Century
I Spit Roses
Deep Ocean Vast Sea
The Prince & Old Lady Shade
Uneven & Brittle
In the Flat Field

First Encore:
The Three Shadows, Part I
(Bauhaus song)
Marlene Dietrich’s Favourite Poem
Cuts You Up <–Highlight of the night
Ziggy Stardust

Second Encore:

4.5 out of 5

4.5 out of 5

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Reminiscing the 90s

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