I was nervous in the lead-up to the Bauhaus show last Thursday, sure that something had to go wrong. And sure enough we almost got Munsoned out there by a huge accident on I-5. Only quick thinking by my brilliant wife saved us from a multihour delay that might not have kept us from the show, but surely would have occasioned much stress and angst.
After that it was all pretty easy. The opening act was a guy called Soriah who combined Tuvan throat-singing with tribal percussion to intriguing, if sometimes soporific, effect. During the set break I sort of spaced out, and next thing I knew someone was playing the opening drumbeats to “Rosegarden Funeral of Sores.” Then Peter Murphy appeared, now completely bald but with magnificent Shakespearean whiskers, shaking his feathered shoulders as he spat, “Virgin Mary was tired.”
And there was Daniel Ash, glamorous as always in glittery coat and remarkably intact wall of hair. Stage right was David J., eternally cool and understated in black suit. Little brother Kevin was a whirlwind of activity behind his kit, and if the drum parts he wrote as a young man are difficult for a sixtysomething to keep up with, he didn’t show it.
There were no real surprises. They stuck mostly to the oldest stuff, doing five songs from In the Flat Field and three from Mask. In the gradual winnowing of their set list over the years, only “Silent Hedges” and “She’s in Parties” have survived from the last two albums.
“Bela Lugosi’s Dead” was oddly disposed of mid-set; possibly they didn’t want their closer to be a camera-fest, which “Bela” inevitably was. The guy in front of me filmed the whole song with his toaster-sized phone, and it took some restraint to refrain from slapping him upside the head. In retrospect I sort of wish I had.
But there was also a moment where the whole crowd was singing “Bela’s undead,” and I got the chills. It’s always a little magical to hear a couple thousand people vocalizing in unison, and in this case even more so; the fact that everyone was masked only added to the effect.
The main set was a concise 13 songs, capped off with a scorching “Dark Entries.” Would I have liked more? Sure. One or more songs from their underrated 2008 reunion album Go Away White would have been welcome. And no “Slice of Life” was weird; that’s always been Daniel’s showcase and was glaring in its omission. Looking at setlists I see that in Europe they did “Terror Couple Kill Colonel” and “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes,” which is annoying.
But there was no quibbling with the encores. First was “Sister Midnight,” which it took me a minute to recognize; that’s new to the repertoire. Then “Telegram Sam,” which I am fond of for many reasons. And finally came traditional set-closer “Ziggy Stardust,” which not only evokes the spirit of David Bowie but just fucking kicks ass.
Then the house lights went up and there was still time to get a drink and be in bed before midnight. Well, it’s 2022; you have to take what you can get.