Even though Bauhaus broke up in 1983 and hasn’t performed in public since, the British rock band, often heralded as “the Godfathers of Goth,” is still very much a viable act in 1998.
Initial evidence supporting Bauhaus’ relevance came when two Hollywood Palladium shows sold out in 15 minutes and a third show was added. Then, because of demand, the band tagged on a few dates across the country. Then a few more. (And if Bauhaus logo tattoos are any indication, the fans are rabid.)
Pioneers in a Goth/electronic/industrial melting-pot world, Bauhaus created songs in their four-year career that were not only inventive, but many of which were strong enough to weather time. While the first of three nights at the Palladium was a sonic trip down memory lane, the music didn’t appear nostalgic.
“In the Flat Field,” “Silent Hedges” and the 10-minute Gothic epic and final encore song, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” sounded as current as many of the recent black-dye jobs.
Elevating the songs were the actual performances — or perceived attitude — of the four members, who, from a distance looked much like they did 15 years ago. Unlike other artists’ reunion tours, these guys seemed genuinely thrilled to be together and entertaining. Though bassist David J. was his usual subdued self and drummer Kevin Haskins was basically obscured by his drums, both managed to make their rhythmic presence felt as well as heard.
But it was the charismatic combo of guitarist Daniel Ash and vocalist Peter Murphy that truly fired the music.
Although no outrageous moves or rock poses were demonstrated, the spiky-haired Ash commanded attention — be it playing a 12-string acoustic guitar on “Silent Hedges” or the bright electric sounds on “She’s in Parties” or wailing on a sax for “In Fear of Fear.” More of a showman, Murphy first appeared on stage via a television screen in which his pale face was broadcast from backstage singing “Double Dare” while his mates played in the dark. Not much for “antics,” the only other props included singing into a hand-held mirror for “Mask” and twirling a long black coat-like-cape for “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”
Murphy was at his best, though, when he was dancing a jig version of the twist during “God in an Alcove,” laying on those crushed in the front row to sing “Silent Hedges,” and his Bowie impersonation during “Ziggy Stardust,” which sounded close enough to the original, but enough Bauhaus to not be a rip-off.
The only disappointments came with the rather anti-climactic set ending of “Kick in the Eye,” the exclusion of Brian Eno’s “Third Uncle,” and the deletion of four songs from their encore for time constraints (they started 25 minutes late).