Some of us thought we would never see Bauhaus reunite. We were able to assuage that realization through vocalist Peter Murphy’s residencies, Mr. Moonlight tours (a solo Murphy playing an all-Bauhaus set with his backup band), and his Ruby Celebration Tour in collaboration with bassist David J for the band’s 40th anniversary.
We all swooned when Poptone came to town, the three-piece group put together by guitarist Daniel Ash and drummer Kevin Haskins in which they played material from Tones on Tail, Love and Rockets, and a Bauhaus song or two for the encore. But it never felt complete. It seemed that it was something we just had to accept – the lines seemed quite drawn as Murphy and Ash from the outside seemingly developed a burning distaste for one another (as described in David J’s 2014 memoir Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?).
Then Murphy had a heart attack. And though it was quite traumatizing for most of us to hear that our undead hero is indeed human—something miraculous came out of it: a Bauhaus reunion.
Out of left field, a month following Murphy’s hospitalization, was the announcement that tickets were to go on sale Friday the 13th of September. This was initially for a one-off Bauhaus reunion gig in Los Angeles on November 3rd, but two more dates were quickly added to meet audience demand after the first show sold out almost immediately.
For this monumental event, I assumed that the goths would come out in droves to claim a decent spot at the general admission Hollywood Palladium, and I was right. The night of they encircled the venue well before the doors opened. And inside, there we were, stuffed shoulder to shoulder, as we anxiously waited for the boys from Northampton to return to the stage after a 13-year hiatus.
Kevin Haskins’ daughter Lola’s three-piece band Automatic was the opening act, whose setlist included a fun cover of Delta 5’s song “Mind Your Own Business”.
The main event began with “Rosegarden Funeral of Sores” originally by the Velvet Underground’s John Cale. This was a welcome surprise from their 1980 Telegram Sam 12”. This song set the tone for how the rest of the set would follow: a celebration of Bauhaus’ specific sound (minimal but complex, darkly romantic but gnarled and dirty), a look at the past, and a triumphant return from post-punk’s royalty. Ash’s crackling guitar wails seemed to envelop Murphy’s voice in a raw unbridled union.
I’ve seen Peter Murphy well over a dozen times over the years and I’ve never experienced the kind of dark synergy I felt that night between him and guitarist Daniel Ash.
In addition to this innate chemistry, some of the most exciting moments of the performance included Ash with his fantastic saxophone solos during “In Fear of Fear”.
David J’s iconic descending bassline from “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” brought on the same awe and dread that is found within the first ten minutes of Tony Scott’s 1983 film The Hunger. With the spotlight beaming down on David J during that very moment, I nearly felt David Bowie’s presence among the shadows.
During the course of the main set, Bauhaus also impressed with deeper cuts such as “Man With the X-Ray Eyes” and “The Three Shadows Part II” (even though Murphy did play this on his Mr. Moonlight tour).
The encore part of the set was reserved to seemingly bookend the concert as to be an homage to their heroes and forebears (after opening up their return with the funereal John Cale cover). During this 4 song partition, the live debut of a cover of “Sister Midnight” from Iggy Pop’s The Idiot was the unexpected highlight since it was also never recorded by the band. In addition to that, there was T-Rex’s “Telegram Sam” a single from In the Flat Field era and, of course, Bauhaus’ infamous rendition of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust”, which closed up the night.
This setlist selection seemed to be a way for them to intimately rewrite the Bauhaus story: no, “Bela” and “She’s in Parties” were not the true stars, but rather Cale, Pop, Bolan, and Bowie were.
As we shuffled out the venue once the house lights came back on, there was no trace of disappointment—just a crowd of smiling goths who left with a sense of satisfaction that only a Bauhaus reunion can provide: drama, darkness, and all the damn nostalgia.
1. “Rosegarden Funeral of Sores” (John Cale cover)
2. “Double Dare”
3. “In The Flat Field”
4. “A God in an Alcove”
5. “In Fear of Fear”
6. “Spy in the Cab”
7. “Terror Couple Kill Colonel”
8. “Swing the Heartache”
9. “She’s In Parties”
10. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”
11. “Kick In The Eye”
12. “The Man With the X-Ray Eyes”
13. “Stigmata Martyr”
14. “Silent Hedges”
15. “Dark Entries”
16. “The Three Shadows, Part II”
17. “Sister Midnight” (Iggy Pop cover)
18. “Telegram Sam” (T. Rex cover)
19. “Ziggy Stardust” (David Bowie cover)
Photos by Steve Rose
Bauhaus perform again at The Hollywood Palladium on December 1st. No tour is expected, but there may be the possibility of more dates in the future.