When Peter Murphy announced that he was planning a tour to celebrate 40 years of Bauhaus with David J, as well as a vinyl release of The Bela Session, post punk fans Europe wide gave a collective cheer. With many new fans being too young to see Bauhaus live, this is the next best thing surely. The tour, which started some months ago in New Zealand has been selling out venues across Europe and finally the UK leg is here. The queues outside build and the anticipation rises a good hour before the doors open and so its no surprise that by the time the support act, London’s Desert Mountain Tribe take to the stage that the venue is already 80% full.
Desert Mountain Tribe have a number of releases under their belt and are one of those bands that everyone is coming to know and love. Debut album Either That Or The Moon was released the spring of 2016, followed by Om Parvat Mystery followed in June 2018 with two EPs, If You Don’t Know Can You Don’t Know Köln and Live At St. Pancras Old Church, somewhere in the middle. Some will know them their performances on the more intimate psychedelic scene, but most of the crowd do not know what’s in store as they edge closer, curious.
They open tonight with ‘Heaven and Hell’ taken from their debut album, the track is the perfect set opener with its entrancing guitar riff and haunting bass groove, driven by a motorik beat. The crowd cheer as soon as they finish, indicating they like what they hear. ‘Runway’ with its evocative lyrics and ridiculously catchy countenance and ‘Leave it Behind’ with its extended guitar interludes and a message that will appeal to everyone are from the same album. They take a step back to the beginning with ‘Take A Ride’ which comes from their debut self-titled but was reworked for the album also features, as well as ‘Circles’ which comes from If You Don’t Know Can You Don’t Know Köln. This track has an edge to it that appeals to the crowd, and you see bodies start to move appreciatively; the bass drawing attention whilst the vocals of front man Jonty Balls are more pronounced than on other tracks. There’s something a little bit special going on here, and everyone else has released it too. A change of personnel across the rhythm section has added a depth to their sound that you didn’t realise was missing. They’ve gone from a band who were playing to 20 people in the underground scene a couple of years ago to a band worthy of the big stage, thrilling sell out crowds across Europe. The sky really is the limit for their potential.
After that invigorating opening, the scene is set for the main event; right down to the odd music that’s playing in the background. Bauhaus became a genre definer and the hype around tonight has been building since the tickets went on sale several months ago. Anyone who’s anyone is here tonight and you could almost cut the atmosphere with a knife.
The lights dim and some barely distinguishable vocals can be heard amongst the woops and cheers, as Peter Murphy and David J take the stage. As promised, they burst straight into tracks from the seminal album In The Flat Field, with ‘Double Dare’ with its submarine esq opening beeps and heavily fuzzed guitar. It takes literally seconds for the full venue to start jumping around, beers flying. As Peter’s opening lyrics start the intensity only increases as the track continues, moving straight into ‘In The Flat Field’ it becomes clear that Peter and David have lost none of their vigour in the intervening years. ‘A God in an Alcove’ and ‘Dive’ are delivered with a precision that some bands can only dream off achieving. ‘The Spy in the Cab’ is predictably haunting, with its ethereal tones and the fact that its sung into a spotlight only adds to the intrigue. It takes things down a notch, but only because everyone is too mesmerised by what they are witnessing to do much other than stare. Thinks pick up again with ‘Small Talk Stinks’ with its heavily punk inspired riffs and atonal elements that create an infectious groove. ‘St Vitus Dance’ and ‘Stigmata Martyr’ are too good for the crowd surfers to resist, much to the dismay of the bouncers and the first part of the set ends courtesy of ‘Nerves’.
We start off the second part of the set, with a slight wardrobe change for Peter and the title track from 1983’s ‘Burning From the Inside’, a track that builds in waves and when it kicks, feels as good as a kick to the face, which, rather appropriately is what comes in ‘Kick in the Eye’ from 1981’s Mask. We’re treated to ‘The Passion of Lovers’ from the same album, with its rolling riff and hypnotic drum beat and ‘Silent Hedges’ from 1982’s The Sky’s Gone Out. But its all in preparation for what comes next, the track that beats all tracks when it comes to Bauhaus, the infamous ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ which from the first note sends a huge roar around the venue and shivers down every spine. It doesn’t take long for a full scale sing along to commence, whether they are singing at the right time or the right words, no-one seems to care. Seeing this track performed live is an uneclipsed moment of pleasure that will take some beating.
Setting the bar impossibly high with that the crowd wonder what can come next, they don’t disappoint by choosing ‘She’s In Parties’ with its combination of an insanely riff and poignant melodica segments that hits all the right notes. This is a great track to hear live as there is so much going on but at the same time its beautifully simplistic. They follow it with ‘Adrenaline’ from 2008’s Go Away White, Bauhaus’ last studio album. The whole thing is drawn neatly to a close by, ironically, going straight back to the beginning with ‘Dark Entries’. They leave the stage to much fanfare, with crowd chants of “Ziggy”, hinting at what the fans would like to see in the encore. They’re not disappointed as the band take to the stage once more and belt out their version of Mr Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’. It’s a superbly executed cover that once more has the room singing, this time with added sway. A perfect ending to a perfect set, live music really doesn’t get much better than this.
There are certain moments in time that you cannot account for, even if you know exactly what you were doing, because they were just brain numbingly good. Tonight was one of those occasions and there is only one thing left to say, thank you Peter Murphy and David J for making so many fans dreams come true.