Back in the day, NME music writer Andy Gill (not to be confused with the Gang of Four guitarist) described Bauhaus’s 1980 debut full-length, In the Flat Field, as “hip Black Sabbath.” That’s pretty accurate; the only way Gill went wrong was that he meant it as an insult. By the time of the album’s release the British postpunk group had already scored a runaway club hit with their 1979 single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”—which was subsequently became adopted as the goth national anthem. In the Flat Field largely eschewed the patient slow build that defined the song (which is as close as they ever got to subtlety) in favor of a wind-lashed sonic assault. Over five years and four album releases, the band had lightning trapped in a bottle, but in 1983 they shattered into a shower of other projects, both solo and in various combinations. As a solo artist, vocalist Peter Murphy has been hit-or-miss. He’s at his best working with an unusual sense of purpose, backed by strong collaborators, and in adventurous settings that allow him to showcase his Byronic baritone voice—for example 2002’s Dust, with Turkish musician and DJ Mercan Dede (aka Arkin Allen), and the Dalis Car collaboration with Japan bassist Mick Karn (one 80s LP and one 2012 EP, InGladAloneness, which consists of tracks they completed just before Karn’s 2011 death from cancer). On this tour, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of In the Flat Field, Murphy reunites with Bauhaus bassist David J, a remarkable songwriter and playwright in his own right who’s had a most interesting post-Bauhaus career (I mean, comics great Alan Moore doesn’t record albums of Thelemic ritual with just anybody). J’s 2014 memoir, Who Killed Mister Moonlight: Bauhaus, Black Magick, and Benediction, is a delightful, compelling read (now available in a deluxe second-edition set from his Bandcamp site). Tonight these goth legends will perform In the Flat Field in its entirety before treating listeners to a lengthy encore of Bauhaus classics. v
Correction: This piece has been updated to reflect the existence of two Andy Gills, one who writes for NME and another who plays in Gang of Four.