Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bela Lugosi's Dead

Bauhaus @ Nokia Theater 11/11/05
Although this is the case, luckily Bauhaus isn't. They reunited earlier this year for an appearance at the Coachella Festival, complete with Peter Murphy hanging upside down when they opened with "Bela Lugosi's Dead". During their previous reunion in 1998, I missed their appearance at Hammerstein Ballroom, so I jumped at the chance to get tickets for this show when they went on sale back in August.

First off, this was my 1st time at this brand new venue. Although it was very clean and antiseptic, it still felt like an theater of some sort (more than a rock and roll venue) and the sound was very good, so in those ways it was quite appropriate for Bauhaus' theatrical music. There was no opener and they went on right after 9 (almost on cue) and played until a little after 10:30 or so. The first few songs were shaky because Peter Murphy was either not fully into it vocally or his vocals were turned down in the mix, which is what my friend thought. Regardless, as soon as Daniel Ash started blaring his saxophone and strutting around the stage for an incredible version of "In Fear of Fear", the concert went from good to great. Many of the old favorites, such as "Dark Entries", "God in an Alcove", "Kick in the Eye", "Terror Couple Kill Colonel", "Hollow Hills", "Silent Hedges", "Swing the Heartache", "She's in Parties" and others were played. In addition, songs that were more unusual choices were also tried out, including the opener "Burning from the Inside" (a 9 and a half minute funk-based dirge that I love but I know many others aren't fond of) and the B-side "Rosegarden Funeral of Sores".

For the encore, they came back out and played the Daniel Ash-sung "Slice of Life" and "Bela Lugosi's Dead", concluding a stunning (though a bit too short; it would've been nice to hear "Crowds", for instance, but that's a very minor complaint) show that witnessed all 4 members in top form vocally and instrumentally. Daniel Ash is an extremely innovative and underrated guitarist (not to mention vocalist, artist and his turn on the sax) and the rhythm section of David J and his brother Kevin Haskins is incredible, too. In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw a band so tight in its precision yet all the while making crazy sounds rarely heard on their instruments before or since. I loved the fact that the bass was turned way up (I'm a huge fan of that style of bass-playing which features it in the forefront; it started out in reggae and dub and many post-punk bands, including Bauhaus, adopted it as well), so you could hear David's almost John Entwistle-like lines. As my friend noted, Peter Murphy sounded more like the Murphy of yore than he did in the 1998 video Gotham (which chronicled the 1998 reunion show at Hammerstein) and on his previous and subsequent solo tours.

The incredible photo above is by David Thorton/Ice Cream Man and was reprinted in Pitchfork for the review I cited above. You can visit his site here. He's got a review of Bauhaus' recent show at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. Search in the index and you can see it there.


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