Review and photos—Peter Murphy at Venue, Vancouver, Dec 2 2011
– review by Ria Nevada/photos by Max Hirtz
Peter Murphy, the Godfather of Goth himself, made one histrionic appearance in Vancouver this weekend.
The veteran rockstar is currently co-headlining a North American tour with younger darkwave cohorts, She Wants Revenge, drawing in a varied pool of misfits to their shows. Corseted burlesque rock queens and cartoonish post-punk princesses stood shoulder-to-shoulder with husky and spiky-haired 40-something men, all feverishly awaiting the opportunity to witness two of the genre’s heavy hitters.
Weaselling through the sea of Kool-Aid colored hair, pleather dresses and fishnet apparel, I found a spot in the middle of the rather tame room to catch the cohesive, spooky and sultry set of San Fernando Valley, California’s She Wants Revenge.
Lead singer Justin Warfield broke out some bar-star dancing, circling his hips and sending out “come hither” arm gestures to the fans by the front of the room. His vocals on the tracks from their most recent LP Valleyheart revived memories of ’80s alternative and new-wave singers like Soft Cell’s Marc Almond and Morrissey.
But when Murphy appeared, it was obvious who influenced Warfield’s flamboyant moves.
The former Bauhaus frontman, touring in support of his latest solo album Ninth, proved to be every bit of the eccentric and whimsical character that he’s come to be known as over the span of his 30-year career. Ascending to the stage like a royal, he nodded elegantly at his admirers and slyly uttered “Hello beautifuls in the front. And the old people in the back”, getting his kicks by making the ladies giggle and swoon to his bedroom eyes and cocky banter.
I’m not gonna lie, the 54-year-old in leather pants looked a little ridiculous exposing his chest while making avian movements on songs like “Velocity Bird”. He would perch on his back leg like a flamingo then flap his arms like an albatross, all the while sneering at the crowd. He strutted his feathers on that stage, kicking beer cans out of the way while projecting his deep and gloomy voice on melodramatic pop numbers like ” Memory Go”. But what is Peter Murphy if not over-the-top and operatic? This is the man who gave us goosebumps in the opening sequence of the David Bowie vampire flick The Hunger after all.
His performance chippered up with “A Strange Kind of Love”. This was one of the instances where Murphy picked up an instrument – a 12-string acoustic guitar – other than his microphone. He truly stretched his weathered vocal chords on the track, bring the song to a climax with a vein-popping growl. Throughout the night, he painted vibrant pictures with his lyrics and postures, making purging movements on “I Spit Roses” and devilishly slinking around like an anti-messiah on “Silent Hedges”. Murphy clearly lives in a world of his own, but luckily, he occasionally leaves his quirky dimension to put on an unforgettable show for his devotees.