Peter Murphy – Vocals, 12 string
Hugh Marsh – Electric Violin
Peter DiStefano – Electric & Synthesized guitar
Murphy has always played the textures of his versatile throat
like an instrument. He tried to make it part of a combo, and
blessed us with ground breaking work in Bauhaus. But
even then, the conflict was based on the fact that he is essentially
a soloist. Overshadowing doesn’t sit well with other musicians--especially
talented ones. The work since has been a fascinating exploration
of sounds and philosophies. That, and half-hearted attempts
to shed his Gothfather image. Former Pyro Peter
DiStefano is no stranger to backing a flashy frontman.
His contribution is essentially energy, not innovation. Alongside
Warren Ellis, and Andrew Bird, Hugh Marsh
is one of the most sought after yet still relevant violinists
in circulation. As Murphy offhandedly introduces them, Marsh
is a musician if ever there was one, and DiStefano is from
California. An unintentional, but acceptable comment. So with
this pared-down vision, and The Voice, they hit the road.
Like Gun & Doll Show’s live record, this is recorded
truly live as it happened.
Murphy presents himself in "Cool Cool Breeze" a
cappella. Warming up his instrument and the audience with
unashamed nakedness. His tendency to play with sonics by gesturing
the mike from his mouth and back was distracting and uncomfortable
during the performance. Here we find from the recording, that
it really added nothing to audio. What is lost from the goofy
technique is the concentration of both performer and audience.
Cradle that mike! Ply it in tender ways, rather than fellating
it. When we attended this tour, Murphy was fighting a cold
and immediately choked on the opening words. He cleared his
throat, said, "’Scuse me," and continued to insane
applause. Unfortunate that the human connection he made with
this imperfection isn’t evident here. The audience here is
appreciative, but I know better. With precision, Marsh begins
to pluck out "All Night Long" like some low-end
music box. DiStefano’s strumming is energetic, but muddied
by the mix. I think this is what I refer to when I ask people
to bring the vocals forward. I’ve heard so much Murphy, that
I think this is where the singing belongs. And I am right.
Murphy also plays with the sound as it fits in his mouth.
He propels syllables with cheeks of elastic.
"Keep Me From Harm" has Marsh picking while faux
flute noises rise from the set. His electric fiddle sweeps
deliver the resolve. Murphy gives this new life, as most of
Holy Smoke went unnoticed. Perennial favorite "Indigo
Eyes" disappoints no one, as Marsh’s depth makes it seem
like adoring. The tones are rich and soothing. Murphy’s voice
is medicine. His take on Pet Clark on Cascade’s
"Subway" is even creepier than the album version.
The ghost is allowed more substance than the synthetic danceable
original. Warbling guitar and gothic keys while Murphy stretches
out plaintively. Marsh is left to make himself at home, wandering
about exploring the cracks of the piece, sometimes making
out like John Zorn. The vocal line trumpets across
phrases proudly. Here DiStefano puts out glows that diminish
The decision to forgo more slippery pop forays like "Scarlet
Thing" is rewarded with syllabic mastery of "I’ll
Fall With Your Knife." Simple electric guitar and pipe
whacking are all that’s needed to augment Murphy’s poetic
rantings. DiStefano reads this song as garage rock. An interesting
if not successful interpretation, it pushes Murphy to an energy
apart from the studio. "Marlene Dietrich" is expected
and lovely. "Strange Kind Of Love" is lacking in
strength both from violin and Murphy’s guitar. The Voice,
however, is lush and cool. The punctuation Marsh presents
on "The Last Two Weeks" with the comforting piano
allows Murphy to soar his best. Everything about this number
is simple and expressive. Some of Murphy’s recent gems were
lost in the re-packaging frenzy of label switches, including
the beautiful and Bowiest composition in some time,
"Big Love Of A Tiny Fool." It’s got a sea-faring
feel that holds up to the traditions of Christy Moore.
"Gliding Like a Whale"’s introduction of flanged
guitar and sequenced drums seems welcomed by the crowd. But
it’s a little jarring in the context of this package of songs.
It’s an odd choice as well--not one of his showcase pieces
or a real crowd pleaser. "Cuts You Up" is a little
slower than we’re accustomed. This is the prime example of
how he tastes the words. Savoring them in his mouth and examining
the textures and echoes. The ridiculous microphone masturbating
shows through even more on "Time Has Got Nothing To Do
With It." Our ears are used to compensating for vocal
irregularities on their own. Now they have to work twice as
hard to suss out the dynamics created by this unnecessary
intrusion. The keyboard tinkling is also the timekeeper. Marsh
lays out some wild analog sounding runs. The song has always
stood on it’s own. Murphy’s humility and fan appreciation
is nicely tapped, as he includes audience members singing
and enjoying themselves in "Angelic Harmony." What
more fitting than these fans singing lovingly?
Like Pearl Jam’s secret club, Disc 2 is a bonus for
old-timers more attached to nostalgic novelties than good
singing. Sounding as endearingly sloppy as Paul Weller,
David J joins him for "Who Killed Mr. Moonlight."
More accurately, Murphy sings backup, to little success. He
reaches gruffly on "All We Ever Wanted", which is
one of my favorites of all time. This version of the rare
"Hope" is messy as well, but well played and inspirational.
It’s an ale-swinging, bar-buddy good time swagger. The unrecognizable
take on "Love Me Tender" sounds mostly improvised.
Slow, loose, and weird like The Swans doing, "I
Wanna Be Your Dog."
I’d recommend this to long-time fans who missed the tour,
or have fond memories of it like I do. Part of Murphy’s inability
to slip the surly bonds of Bauhaus is that the fans are unwilling
to let go. With the reunion a couple of years back, and the
renewed familiarity with the lads, I think he’s discovered
what his beloved fans have known. Sometimes you have to go
back in order to go forward. I think they’ll be more ready
Disc: 1 The Concert Proper
- Cool Cool Breeze
- All Night Long
- Keep Me From Harm
- Indigo Eyes
- I'll Fall With Your Knife
- Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem
- A Strange Kind Of Love
- My Last Two Weeks
- Big Love Of A Tiny Fool
- Gliding Like A Whale
- Cuts You Up
- Time Has Got Nothing To Do With It
- Angelic Harmony
Disc: 2 Midnight Encore
- Who Killed Mr. Moonlight
- All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
- Hope (Midnight Proposal)
- Love Me Tender
in the webboard
e-mail the chief
Like this article?
it to a friend!