BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Bauhaus ...

Wow ... as those of you who read this space with any frequency might have assumed, I'm not much of an "act on implulse" kind of guy, which results in my not ending up seeing movies, attending events, etc. much of the time. Well, this went totally against pattern ... perhaps a testimonial to how much pull "my bands" still have on me 25-30 years down the pike.

This all started with ana mentioning that she was going to be going to see Bauhaus on Monday. When she got back from the show, she did a bit of a review over at ... to which I responded, yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon with a post on her "Under The Bed" BBS to the effect that I was quite jealous of her getting to see them. One thing she mentioned was that the venue they played at up in Minneapolis was not sold out, and that gave me a "hmmmmm..." moment, leading me to find their tour schedule and discover that they were playing here on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I then called up the local venue (The Vic) and asked if there were still tickets available, and was amazed to find that there were. Now, again, this was Tuesday afternoon, and I just couldn't quite "pull the trigger" on going out then, but I did get permission from The Powers That Be (aka The Wife), and wrapped my schedule around the Wednesday night show.

So, today (which was a bit topsy-turvy anyway, having both of The Girls home, #1 due to it being Report Card Pick-Up Day, and #2 because she refuses to go to Kindergarten if her sister is getting to stay home), after I got done with a volunteer shift manning one of the PTA tables at the school for a few hours, I pulled out some "gothier" than normal clothes and hopped the El up to Belmont. The Vic is right around the corner from where the small club was that I'd seen Bauhaus in "back in the day", which amused me somehow. I was able to breeze up to the box office window, just about 10 minutes before the doors were due to open, buy a ticket with no hassle (when I'd called they were estimating having about a 90% full house), and go stand in line with the rest of the black-clad masses.

I had, unfortunately, brought my camera along (hoping to share some cool shots from the show with y'all), not realizing that The Vic has a "no cameras in the building" policy, so I had to be, once through the security pat-down, escorted down to the check room to park that safely away from anything worth photographing for the duration of the show. Oh well. I hadn't seen a concert up there in ages and had forgotten than they're a full-service bar kind of place, not that it matters to me (I nursed one Red Bull right up to showtime), but it did seem odd having waitresses running beers/cocktails to folks in the balcony. I guess I just don't get out enough.

The show itself was pretty good ... ana had been complaining that she felt they weren't "tight" and that the sound was "muddy", but I didn't get that particularly (except on one song ... "Hair of the Dog", which seemed to be out of synch). I understand that Peter Murphy has been fighting off a cold, and that it likely why he seemed to be forgoing some of his typical vocal gymnastics in favor of some steady, but not stressful, tones which were then "punched up" in the mic from the soundboard. You got the feeling that he was operating at about 80%, most of the stuff was fine, just the "more energetic" vocals were effected. This did not compare with the "Ressurection" tour of '98, but it was amazing seeing these guys run through their tunes again.

As the scheduled start time was 7:30pm and there was no warm-up band, things got over by 10pm ... so I hopped back on the El, grabbed some Chinese take-out, and was home by about 10:30 ... perfect timing for a geezer, eh?

{EDIT - thought I'd add on the review that was in the paper this morning!}

Bauhaus returns from dead to keep its goth fans satisfied
By Joshua Klein
Special to the Tribune

November 10, 2005

At spring's Coachella Music Festival, Peter Murphy started the set from his reunited band Bauhaus suspended upside down like a slumbering bat, and ended it by dramatically intoning: "Now you can say you were there!"

The implication being that the one-off show was just that: a final chance to see the Goth greats in action.

Yet as any horror movie fan knows, you can't keep a good ghoul down. Bauhaus has crawled out of the grave once again, and like any vampires worth their fangs, Murphy, bassist David J., guitarist Daniel Ash and drummer Kevin Haskins looked eerily well-preserved for the first of two shows at the Vic Tuesday night.

But if Bauhaus was about nothing more than image--and indeed, to their black-clad fans and followers, image is certainly important--then the group might have faded away like so many other post-punk acts.

What keeps the band alive, despite a lack of new material since 1983, is the music, a unique, heady, dark mix of jagged guitar, fuzzy dub bass, pounding drums and Murphy's sepulchral croon.

Even so, Bauhaus' greatest attribute--its relentless minimalism--could also be its biggest fault.

Dirges such as "In the Flat Field" and the group's best-known song--"Bela Lugosi's Dead"--ultimately go nowhere. The intensity is steady and incessant, but the music in the end is an exercise in arty, monochromatic menace.

But, oh, what menace!

"She's in Parties" pulsed along atop Haskin's steady but swinging beat and J.'s hypnotic bass, while Ash's otherworldly guitar complemented Murphy's dramatic singing.

"Silent Hedges" was a minor-key masterpiece, with Murphy sounding like Neil Diamond's demented doppelganger against Ash's spooky 12-string.

Later, the descending melody of "Dark Entries" attained a sort of primal power, while the opening song, "Burning from the Inside," bounced between rudimentary scare tactics and discordant funk.

Ash set down his guitar to play squawking sax on "In Fear of Fear."

"Hair of the Dog" showed that with the right combination of strobe lights and smoke machines, even dirges can pack a wallop.

Before ending the 90-minute set, however, Bauhaus offered two telling covers, one of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" and the other of T. Rex's glam staple "Telegram Sam." While completely incongruous, they subtly underscored that for all its often imitated but never replicated idiosyncrasies, Bauhaus isn't totally sui generis.

Beneath the theatrics and gloomy lyrics lies a band of old-fashioned rock fans who long ago simply stumbled on a fresh way to jam bass, guitar and drums together.

Because of this, Bauhaus has become to its generation what Bowie and Marc Bolan were to theirs, which is justification enough to resist the pull of retirement and return again and again to its catalog of undead classics.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

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