Wednesday Night: Peter Murphy at Respectable Street Cafe, West Palm Beach

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Peter Murphy
With the Mission Veo
Respectable Street Cafe, West Palm Beach
Wednesday, June 26, 2009

Better Than: Being too lazy to make the journey to West Palm.

The Review:

Peter Murphy's performance at Respectable Street Cafe was, of course, a treat for his hardcore fans. South Florida is not exactly the cradle of old-school goth, so for the erstwhile Bauhaus frontman to return in less than a year was extra-special.

The local stop of his Retrospective Tour, at Revolution last July, was pitch-perfect. But it was a carefully crafted show, with a sort of glitzy formality befitting the avowed glam rock lover. (He even wore a suit). This past Wednesday's gig felt like, well, exactly what it was -- a sweaty club performance with a hardcore crowd who had mostly traveled across county lines to sweat, dance, and emote. Murphy appeared relatively dressed down, in an unseasonable parka. But even that had a glam touch: Its hood was circled with blue feathers, boa-like.

That's not to say he toned down the theatrics, though, punctuating his

songs with seizing dances and  His vocals retain their creepy, dramatic

timbre, and, actually, he's starting to sound a bit like the latter-day

version of his idol David Bowie.

The other major difference

between this show and last year's was the set list. That's clear just

by the names of the tours, of course -- the Retrospective last year,

and the Secret Cover Tour this year. Murphy did make some concessions

to his back catalog, even, luckily, playing "Cuts You Up," something he

has not done on every stop of this current run. There were covers

aplenty, too, and Murphy truly made them his own. There were not one,

but two Bowie renditions, actually, one of "Be My Wife," a recent tour

favorite, and another, a show-ending version of "Space Oddity" which he

reworked into a vaguely New Age-y ambient ballad.

As for the new material, of which there was a lot, too -- it's reassuringly good. Rather than go back to the Eastern exploration he's dabbled in recently, Murphy has returned to his art-rock roots. The new songs he played have a sexy, groin-centric swagger, serious guitars, and danceable rhythms.

Also, a quick note about opening band, the local guys of the Mission Veo.

Even though they were shunted out to the sweaty patio to play their

set, they made the most of it, playing their sped-up synth pop as

though their life depended on it. Their instrumental setup seems a bit

involved, and it still translated well live. Frontman Johnny is one of

the few local guys in his genre that can really sing while

attempting to put on a show. I actually saw him signing autographs

after his set. That's, well, still ridiculous at this stage in the

game, but it's a reflection of the professionalism with which the band

attacks its performances.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: It would take a lot for me to say a Peter Murphy show was not the best show ever, etc.

Random Detail:

I salute the fellow in the spandex zebra-print top who danced wildly

and enthusiastically, solo, for most of the Mission Veo's set.

By the Way:

A security guard yanked on my arm and barked in my ear for having my

iPhone out -- even though I was visibly typing notes on it for this

review. I saw another girl manhandled and physically dragged out by a

bearded bouncer for managing to snap a cell phone photo during the

first song. Similar things were going on everywhere in the venue

throughout the whole show. Somehow, I don't think that's what Peter

Murphy had in mind when he requested no photography. How about a first

warning to put them away?

[Most of the] Set List -- please help me fill in the gaps:

-"Velocity Bird"
-"Peace to Each" (title?? new song)
-new song??
-"Instant Karma" (John Lennon cover!)
-"I'll Fall With Your Knife"
-"In Every Dream Home a Heartache" (Roxy Music cover)
-"Too Much 21st Century" (Bauhaus!)
-?? (bathroom break, help)
-"Cuts You Up"
-"Adrenalin" (Bauhaus) / "Be My Wife" (David Bowie cover)

(Respectable Street is so small that the band couldn't leave the stage. "This is where we usually leave," Murphy said, "so instead we'll just stand here and be silent for a moment.")

-"A Strange Kind of Love" (with a little bit of Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead")
-"Space Oddity" (David Bowie cover)

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