New Dark Age: Peter Murphy, Lords of Acid, and more!

The much-awaited “40 Years of Bauhaus Ruby Celebration” tour packed NYC’s cavernous Terminal 5 on Valentine’s Day 2019. Bauhaus was the foundational post-punk, goth band originally organized in 1978 through the efforts and vision of Daniel Ash and David J. Haskins. The latter suggested the name of the band to reference the German art movement of the 1920s, which was noted for its stark, modern designs. David J.’s younger brother Kevin came in on drums. Murphy was recruited mainly because of his looks, and he became the face of Bauhaus following the motion picture appearance of the band in the opening scenes of the movie The Hunger. Their first full-length album was In the Flat Field.

Bauhaus disbanded in 1983. A few efforts were made to revive the group, notably in 1998 and 2005, but the success of Murphy’s solo career—and the success of bands organized around the other three original members, notably Love & Rockets—worked against such attempts. Peter Murphy and David J. now have joined forces under the name of the former—he by far the bigger star—to revive a part of Bauhaus’s oeuvre. All entries in the tour, in which they were presently midway, open with a more or less complete rendition of most of the ten or twelve tracks off In the Flat Field.

These are then followed by a few selections off the band’s other albums. This night they opened with the defiant “Double Dare” which Murphy, bearded and balding, wearing a sparkly black tunic, sang with his middle finger demonstratively thrust aloft. Next came “In the Flat Field,” then “A God in An Alcove.” Murphy cavorted restlessly on stage during the discordant “Dive,” “Spy in the Cab,” and “Small Talk Stinks.” At one point he glowered straight up into an overhead beam of stage lighting. David J. captured another intense light beam on the reflective surface of his bass guitar and directed it in sweeping gestures over and into the audience.

“St. Vitus Dance” is the medical name of a kind of seizure that causes rapid, uncoordinated, jerky movement, and the song of that name features jangly guitar and jerky rhythm to which Murphy sang—or rather screamed—the harsh lyrics. An excellent version of the sacrilegious club favorite, “Stigmata Martyr”—with its recognizable, repetitive descending bass line and its recitation of “Sign of the Cross” in Latin—followed. The set closed with “Nerves” which features an ominous guitar hook and ends with a forceful repetitive mantra, “Nerves like nylon, nerves like steel.” By this point Murphy was fanning himself with the flaps of his jacket to address overheating.

After a brief break during which the stage went dark, they returned. Peter Murphy to the tune of “Kingdom’s Coming” in the background, introduced the drummer and guitarist as well as the no-intro-necessary presence of David J. Then “Silent Hedges” slid seamlessly into a thunderously percussive and rather short version of their signature piece, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” For this song, Murphy wore a vest with an oversized, flipped-up collar and his notorious features were eerily lit from below, giving him a menacing, vampiric look as he led an audience singalong. Murphy played a melodica from the far back of the stage during the next number, “She’s in Parties.”

At this point, he invited a reggae singer on stage to perform one piece, ostensibly paying tribute to the influence of Caribbean music. “Kick in the Eye” and “Passion of Lovers” closed the second set. After the break they returned with the powerful “King Volcano” and “Kingdom’s Coming” before concluding with Murphy’s version of the Dead Can Dance number “Severance.” There was neither widespread enthusiasm nor was there much complaining regarding this choice of finale, nor of the setlist in general, which apparently changes significantly with each show on the tour.

Lords of Acid/Gramercy Theatre/March 12, 2019

Lords of Acid headlined a multiple-act, multi-performance show at the Gramercy Theatre on March 12, accompanied by three other bands and a dance troupe.

Opening band Gabriel and the Apocalypse featured multiple zombie made-up male accompanists backing a female vocalist, Lindy Gabriel, with industrial-strength heavy rock sounds.

Little Miss Nasty consisted of numerous scant, fetish-clad perfomers, five or six at a time, cavorting, dancing, and performing acrobatics, to the sounds of popular hard rock and industrial tunes. Their edgy stage show came in two sets. The first took place between Gabriel and the Apocalypse, and the second just before Lords of Acid’s finale performance. In between, they spent much time hawking wares and posing for photos at their merchandise stand on the Gramercy’s basement level.

In between, there was a disappointingly mundane set by Genitorturers, who have in recent years completely omitted the outrageously explicit, full-frontal nudity acts of yesteryear for which they were famous. Celebrating 30 years on the scene, lead singer Gen remains amazingly svelte, buff, and athletic. His singing voice has held up amazingly well, too. But without the grotesque, sexually explicit acts that gained Genitorturers fame, however, the music had little appeal, except as loud, aggressive, metal delivered by a fetish-attired dominatrix with various props and lewd gestures.

Industrial rock band Orgy assaulted the theater with raucous, electronic, rhythmic sounds that lacked melody, except when they reprised their cover of New Order’s  “Blue Monday,” curiously their only recognizable signature track.

The musical quality as well as the enthusiasm level rose when Lords of Acid finally took the stage. The sound system remained painfully and inappropriately loud however, drowning the synthesizer into oblivion as wild and audacious female power-vocalist Marieke Bresseleers led the band in a guitar-driven set that included some early hits as well as entries from their newest album Pretty in Kink. Of the latter, I picked out several, including “Break Me,” “Sex Cam Girl” and “Flow Juice.”

The band’s other members took over, singing a snarky “Praise the Lord,” while Marieke took a brief break. When she returned, a black-clad female dancer joined her on stage for some simulated necking and theatrical S&M acts. Eventually the rubber sex doll featured on the album cover was brought out, then tossed around, first by those on stage, then out into the audience creating a festive, chaotic atmosphere. Daring and exhibitionistic models, dancers, and audience members came on the crowded stage and frolicked with the music, the musicians, and each other.

For challenging entertainment, both musical and outrageous, Lords of Acid’s program fulfilled expectations.

Necropolis/Windfall NYC

The first Saturday of the month is a special night for denizens of the dark dance scene in and around NYC. DJ Father Jeff and his crew consisting of DJs Patrick, Templar, and Angel play some of the best, newest and, yes, oldest tracks that serve the tastes of those hoofers who lean toward goth, deathrock, EBM and industrial.

Attendees were greeted by Mandana Banshie Templar at the gate and served by Sara at the bar. A “Who’s Who” of nightlife notables present on this night included the statuesque model, Ashley Bad, and Chloe Alexis, from the upcoming Darkside of the Con, scheduled to take place the last weekend of March.

Horror/sci-fi publisher Derrick Hussey, too, is a frequent flyer at Necropolis. Between dances Derrick offered conversation on literary matters including insights on notorious wordsmith H.P. Lovecraft and clues regarding the upcoming Necromicon Festival of Weird Fiction, Art, and Academia that will take place August 22-25 in Providence, RI.

The main attraction of course is the music, masterfully curated by Father Jeff and his entourage. This night we heard—and danced to—classics like “Marian” by the Sisters of Mercy, “Für” by And One, “Head Cut” by Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Louise” by Clan of Xymox, “I Am Stretched On Your Grave” by Sinead O’Connor, “Mourn” by Apoptygma Berserk, and many, many more.

Turnout was exceptional, but the packed dance floor accommodated all who wanted to prance in the characteristic freeform stepping that prevails in the goth dance scene.

The Red Party/The Mercury Lounge/March 9, 2019

This marked the 11th annual recurrence of “Welcome to the Reptile House,” an evening of The Sisters of Mercy at the Mercury Lounge. The packed house of dancers and imbibers was treated to a collection that featured music by the Sisters, heavily interspersed with selected goth, post-punk, and coldwave tracks. Hostess Mandana Banshie Templar and Annabel S. Fagan managed the front reception area and the merchandise stand.  DJs Jarek and Glenn Maryansky took turns alternating with the host, DJ Sean Templar.

Live entertainment was provided by Brooklyn trio Adorns, whose intriguing style included far away, distant vocals by a dazzling goth female lead, mingled with dense electronica that was heavy on reverb, vamping, and free form guitar riffs. The effect was somewhat reminiscent of Cocteau Twins and/or Echostream.

Videos of the Sisters of Mercy played on the big background screen all night except during the live performance. Host Sean Templar addressed the attendees, made reference to the upcoming 12th anniversary of the Red Party to take place on the second Saturday of April, and engaged in his usual crowd-pleasing antics while serving as deejay at the turntables. A mere sampling of Sisters’ tracks included “Marian,” “Floorshow,” “No Time To Cry,” “Torch,” “I Was Wrong,” and “Lucretia My Reflection.”

This was a special night for the Templars, who received a much awaited oil painting portrait of Sean, immortalizing his status as the dynamic impresario and modern goth icon around whom much of the greater New York dark scene revolves.

Peter Murphy/Bauhaus Photos Courtesy of Ester Segretto. All other photos by Doktor John.