(le) Poisson Rouge
New York, NY
April 22, 2016
Peter Murphy is an icon, a chameleon who often sheds one creative skin in favor of a deeper layer. The 58-year-old has worn many hats through the years, from reigning as the vocalist of Bauhaus, a solo artist, collaborator with Mick Karn in Dali's Car, in a cameo as "The Cold One" in 2010's The Twilight Saga: The Eclipse
, portraying "Blown Away Guy" in the Maxell audio cassette ads in the UK and so much more. Now the man who earned the moniker "The Godfather of Goth" has brought his Stripped Tour to the Unites States with just three musicians on stage, playing re-imagined and straightforward takes on his extensive catalog.
Many of Murphy's 31 dates across the states in April and May sold out early, and additional late-evening shows were added to some cities to accommodate the need for tickets. Such as was the case at (le) Poisson Rouge in New York City. LPR is a music venue and multimedia art cabaret founded in 2008 by Justin Kantor and David Handler, graduates of the Manhattan School of Music, at the former site of The Village Gate. Their intent is to zero in on artistry and to bring contemporary classic music into the club setting, a successful transition that does indeed foster the fusion of "popular art cultures" in music, film, theater, dance and fine art. It isn't unusual to have a classic show followed by a DJ set and indie concert all in the same weekend. After two shows on Thursday night, Murphy hit the stage on Friday evening refreshed and ready to rock.
The more scaled down approach worked well at LRP, as Murphy, statuesque and lanky stood on the stage surveying the large room in front of him, filled with tables in a cabaret setting. With a rose pinned to his right shirt sleeve, Murphy cut a strong figure, flanked by two of his longtime friends and musicians. Born in New Jersey, Julliard trained and New York City based, Emilio Zef China has shared the stage with Murphy for the past few years. Adding support on bass and electric violin, China has played with Murphy's live band since 2011. John Andrews of Loudboy is a New York City based guitarist and singer who was part of Murphy's Ninth
(Nettwerk Music Group, 2011) album band as well as the Ninth
live touring ensemble.
The dark club was filled to the brim on this warm, Friday evening. The crowd, which filled every possible seat and had overflowed into the aisles was also packed was three deep in the bar area, held onto every word the iconic singer uttered. In between interesting takes on Bauhaus and solo songs such as "Strange Kind of Love" with a snippet of "Bela Lugosi's Dead;" "Gaslit;" "King Volcano;" "The Rose;" "Marlene Dietrich's Favorite Poem;" "Kingdom's Coming;" "All Night Long;" "Secret" and "Never Fall Out" as well as the obligatory covers of David Bowie ("The Belway Brothers") and Iggy Pop ("Sister Midnight"), Murphy was in a jovial mood. The singer told a number of humorous stories. One was about his ballet dancer wife who he claims is an English Dame and how he just wants her to make dinner. Another story, which he told with an impish look on his face and a gleam in his eye, was about how New York, though wonderful "is just too damn expensive. You get duped into spending a small fortune to live in a tiny box."
The audience on this evening was completely amped-up. This was a group of die-hard fans. They sang along with Murphy on every song. It didn't matter whether the arrangement was similar or even close to the original. Even in their re-imagined, stripped format the majority of the songs were pure Peter Murphymelodic, moody and almost as though they were plucked from another era. Once the song had begun and was recognized, the crowd was right there with Murphy making each song an audience participation event.