PETER MURPHY at BLUEBIRD | 11/28/11
The highlight of last night's show came during the encore, when Peter Murphy came back on stage wearing a short fuzzy hat that looked like a Fez, playing a twelve-string acoustic. After creating an impressionistic soundscape, all four members of the band went into a haunting and powerful rendition of "Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem," a delicately beautiful song that served as the perfect segue.
The show started with no preamble. When one of the stage hands flashed his flashlight at the sound board, Peter Murphy and his bandmates took the stage and immediately went into "All Night Long." Throughout the show, Murphy displayed his mastery of subtle theatrical gestures as though he got his training to star in German expressionist films--slightly exaggerated moves done with graceful gestures.
The band didn't really play material from Murphy's previous two albums, but it did play liberally from Ninth, which has more of a rock feel on songs like "Velocity Bird." During "Strange Kind of Love," incensed by the incidental chatter, one person shouted for people to shut up.
You could see Murphy taking mental note of this, and as a private joke perhaps, he switched to the lyrics to "Bela Lugosi's Dead" to kind of nudge some of the crowd back into the show, and it actually worked -- a stroke of genius, if ever there was one, that required no overt and melodramatic act.
Murphy and company also played some Bauhaus material with fairly well reworked versions of "Silent Hedges" and "Too Much 21st Century." But it was Murphy's originals that got the crowd singing along with classic Deep cuts like "Deep Ocean Vast Sea." Right before that song, the guys played a newer song called "Gaslit," and it was an atmospherically rich song with minimal instrumentation that was smoky and gorgeous like a fog-accented sunset.
The main set ended with "Uneven & Brittle," and the foursome came returned for a four song encore. At one point, Murphy spotted a girl in the audience who was dressed up like the character Darryl Hannah played in Blade Runner and brought her up on stage. For a few songs, she stood in the wings before Murphy brought her back up for the final number, a rousing cover of "Ziggy Stardust." As he ended the set, Murphy prowled the stage like Mick Jagger, displaying more poise than machismo as he jumped up and down in spinning circles. The guy's still got it, and his newest material proved he's not out of ideas.
Before Murphy and company took the stage, She Wants Revenge warmed up the crowd, opening with "Written In Blood." Sonically, a lot of the first half of the band's set was like really slender post-punk gone blues rock of some variety. While there was synth in there, it sounded thin, as did the guitar. Justin Warfield's vocals were dry and fairly monotone and unemotional, and with the rest of the band not moving a whole lot, it made for a really odd visual and audio experience at once -- especially for a group that sounded like a rock band but didn't perform like one.
Lyrically, it just sounded kind of like stuff Stephen Pearcy wrote for mid-'80s Ratt -- maybe not quite as silly as that in moments, but it was hard not to think of all that bad glam rock from the '80s. Live, "These Things" recalled Clan of Xymox, though not nearly as dark, and it didn't really get under your skin.
The best part of the set came at the end with "Tear You Apart," which sounded like the post-punk guitar sensibility and the darkwave synth and dance music aesthetic of the band gelled the best, and She Wants Revenge gave its all in the performance. Most of the rest of the set seemed like a band manufactured for a 1995 film taking place in the future. The future? Yes, in the year 2000.
Personal Bias: I saw Bauhaus and Love & Rockets the same year a long time ago and have been wanting to see a Peter Murphy show for years ever since getting into Deep when it came out. Random Detail: I ran into Malgorzata Wacht of the Siren Project, Kitty Vincent of Le Divorce and Michael Trundle at the show. By the Way: Apparently you could pay $65 for some kind of VIP package with a meet and greet and get your stuff signed, if you were so inclined. Some people ponied up for it.
Peter Murphy Bluebird Theater - 11/28/11 Denver, CO
01. All Night Long 02. Velocity Bird 03. Mirror to My Woman's Mind 04. Memory Go 05. A Strange Kind of Love 06. I'll Fall With Your Knife 07. Silent Hedges 08. Seesaw Sway 09. Too Much 21st Century 10. I Spit Roses 11. Subway 12. Gaslit 13. Deep Ocean Vast Sea 14. The Prince & Old Lady Shade 15. Uneven & Brittle
16. Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem 17. Indigo Eyes 18. Cuts You Up 19. Ziggy Stardust
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.