A DEBUT GUEST POSTING by MIDDLE AGED MAN
To me Bauhaus were the greatest live band of the early eighties, no other band managed to combine the aggression of punk with theatre. Peter Murphy was born to perform, never still for a second still, constantly twisting and pirouetting with a flexibility and physical shape that was awesome and even as a relatively fit eighteen year old I knew was beyond me. On the right hand side of the stage (from the audience view) was Daniel Ash, who yielded his guitar like a razor blade, sharp slashes, no gentleness and who would completely ignore the singer until he ventured into the guitarist’s territory and would then be physically pushed back to the centre. And on the left was the cool aloft David J who was economical to say the least, no wasted movement or facial expression.
The following ICA is based upon standout live memories rather than their recorded versions (with the obvious exception)
1: Boys (B side of the Bela single)
The first time I saw Bauhaus was in Derby at a seedy closed down cinema – the Ajanta Cinema, I was a student at Nottingham Trent Polytechnic, a member of the Alternative music society, through which was arranged the tickets and coach. A sharp guitar rhythm, no solos allowed, intermittent drums and bass and Peter Murphy’s vocals carry the tune. With lines like ‘ features so fine, rouge and eyeline’ it seems to predict the new romantic movement, but musically has far too much aggression.
2. Dark Entries (Single)
A live masterpiece, feedback intro of rising tension, raising the hairs on the back of neck before bursting into the fastest Bauhaus song, even as a 50 year old at a re-union gig I had to rush forward and throw myself into the melee
3. Terror Couple Kill Colonel (Single)
The good old days when bands would release singles and NOT put them on albums, a slightly slower song compared to earlier releases and what a title , how could you not listen and it all takes place ‘in his West German home ‘
4. Third Uncle (B-side)
Bauhaus went through a period of releasing covers as singles, probably in an attempt to get in the top 20 – Telegram Sam, Ziggy Stardust and this Brian Eno cover, The first 2 were songs I already knew and were delivered with more threat than the originals, but Third Uncle was new to me as I had never heard any Brian Eno solo stuff and to be honest could have been a Bauhaus original for all I cared. This always takes me take to a Rock City show this was the opening number, but Peter Murphy was at the side of stage playing keyboards, which was like playing Duncan Ferguson at right back for the first ten minutes, taking away the focal point of the team/band.
5. Hollow Hills (Album track)
All live shows/performances need a pause, a breather, a chance for both the band and the audience to recover from the adrenaline rush of the first few songs, for Bauhaus Hollow Hills worked perfectly a shimmering introduction, almost spoken vocals the song carried by the repetitive bass notes.
6. Burning From the Inside (Album track)
During their 2006 re-union tour I saw Bauhaus in Birmingham to begin the show. Daniel Ash stands atop the speaker stack and starts playing this tune, it isn’t the fastest of intros/riffs, but the sheer confidence/arrogance of the man was spell binding, wearing what looked like a fur edged tank top with his hair in a top knot we all stood still in disbelief.
7. Kick In The Eye (Single)
‘Searching for Satori’, released twice as a single it was the lead off track from the second album and heralds a sequence of great singles from mixed albums . Fairly obviously the live performances would feature Mr Murphy showing off his high kicks.
8. Antonin Artaud (Album Track)
Pretentious or educational? From The Sky’s Gone Out album, having heard the song I had to go to the library ( pre internet days) to find out who Antonin was, has the final repeated line ‘Those Indians wank on his bones’,
9. Dancing (Album Track)
Back to the second album ‘Mask’ (worse album cover ever contender) and another great live track that brought out the best of Peter Murphy’s athleticism, I have always assumed it is about himself as it described his stage performance perfectly.
10. Crowds (B side)
Another song that seems to be about themselves ( and also the audience this time) the only Bauhaus track that I can remember that features a piano rather than guitar.
11. In The Flat Field (Album track)
A great live track with thunderous drums which describes the frustration/boredom of a teenager living in the sticks wanting excitement. The line ‘in the flat field I do get bored replace with Piccadilly whore’ sums up why anyone moves to a big city.
12 Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Single)
I just had to include it, a career defining track which sounds nothing like anything else they recorded.