Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bleedin' Armadilla #6 - Peter Murphy @ House of Blues

Upon moving to New Orleans from Brooklyn, Kelly McClure and Lindsey Baker noticed a lack of music blogs featuring New Orleans music blog type things. This is a music blog type thing called Bleedin' Armadilla that will be a regular feature here on Total Bozo. This music blog type thing will focus on shows we see here in New Orleans, both local bands, and bands that tour in the area. Disclaimer: do not look to this music blog type thing for "actual' music coverage. We'll mostly just be talking about ourselves, and what sort of emotions, grievances, etc. we happened to have during these shows. Thank you. This is Bleedin' Armadilla.

My formative years were spent listening to goth music and I feel like I never shut up about it. I'm sure a lot of people were goth in their teens (okay, and twenties) it's not that big of a deal. Some people grew up wearing PacSun shirts, and some people grew up wearing capes and bondage bracelets. Everyone went through their own emotional journey. During my journey through darkness I listened to a lot of goth tapes and CDs, but didn't go see a whole lot of goth shows. I think this is partially because my dad had nightmares about me flailing around in a dark, smoke machine filled room, cutting myself to devil music and tried his best to prevent that from happening with frequency. I saw a couple though. I was obsessed with a band called Human Drama and saw them a handful of times. I saw Christian Death once. I saw Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, but any goth worth their weight in black eyeliner will tell you ... they aint goth. One band I always wanted to see and somehow kept missing was Bauhaus. And one singer I always wanted to see but kept missing was Peter Murphy. I finally had my chance last night at the House of Blues in New Orleans and I went into the show expecting to have a princely evening (like an actual prince, not "Prince") but came out of it with the grim (in a bad way) realization that Peter Murphy is the Kanye West of goth. 

Last night's show was advertised as being a "Stripped" acoustic show, but we were pretty quickly tipped off to this not being the case when we walked into the venue and saw multiple electric guitars, a drum machine, and band mics on the stage. I'd been given a photo pass to cover the event and had been nervous about that on the drive over since I've never been in a photo pit before, but we made our way up to the very front of the stage with ease on account of the fact that no one was really there. The room filled up eventually but 20 minutes before Peter Murphy was set to come on there was enough room to get a polite game of four square going. 

As I stood there waiting I found myself getting emotional, reflecting on the days of my youth and how easy it is to conjure up the sights, sounds, and feeling of the past. Like that machine Harold from Harold and Maude uses in Maude's house that allows him to sniff a tube and smell what a winter's day in New York smells like. I remember what the wet grass of my high school's football field smelled like as we walked through it to sneak away for lunch, or how the light in my bedroom looked as I lounged around listening to Bauhaus and dreaming of having my own apartment where I could be as weird as I wanted 24/7. I was thinking about all of this when I looked to my right and saw Peter waiting in the wings preparing to come out. He looked good. Like a sweaty vampire. Half of me wishes the night could have ended there, with me still believing that one of my teenage idols is a proper idol, and not the pompous ass that most of them turn out to be.

Within seconds of performing the first song "Cascade," Peter was fighting with the sound guy, making hand gestures, pointing at his mouth and to the sky, and making some 'x' sign with his fingers that I still haven't figured out the meaning of. He didn't seem to be happy with the audience and he definitely wasn't happy with the sound, although it sounded great to me. His vocals, throaty and low, were flawless all throughout. No one can take that away from him, even while very openly beginning to highlight was a doucher he seems to be. After not receiving the quality he was going for, he stopped the show altogether and waited backstage with his bass player/violin player, and guitar player until things were fixed to his liking. When he came back out his attitude had gotten noticeably worse than it was to begin with and I started to wonder if maybe he was on "all of the drugs."

Stage banter is usually a great thing and tends to create a shared "we're in this together" atmosphere, but not when the person doing the bantering is in a poopy pants bad mood. Peter started off the chatty portion of his set by mistakingly saying he was in New York and then, after being like "oh shit, where am I" while rubbing his forehead, made some remarks about hating New Orleans, would never move there, and how if he got shot that night his family would be millionaires. *Sigh* What a dreamboat. As he was doing this a girl in the audience shouted out that she had flown in from New York just for this show and Peter interrupted her yelling "don't talk to me!" He could very well have been "kidding" but I didn't think it was funny and I doubt many other people did either. You could feel a lot of batwings crumpling under the weight of disappointment.

Aside from the nature of the man performing them, the songs were wonderful. The set had a nice variety with "hits" and deep cuts from his solo career like "Indigo Eyes," "Strange Kind of Love," and "Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem," as well as beloved songs from his days fronting Bauhaus like "King Volcano," "Silent Hedges," and "Hollow Hills." I'd find myself getting swept away, forgetting the turd factor of his stage presence long enough to really enjoy the music, and then he'd have another flare up.  During one song he crept along the lip of the stage and kicked my beer cup and camera to indicate he wanted them off. I hated how sensitive that made me feel. It was like getting spit in the face by the person you wanted to take you to prom. As he was walking back and forth he'd put his hand out for people to touch and I, still wanting to connect, put mine out and missed him by an inch. I felt the heat of his hand on my hand, but we didn't touch. I could have written just that sentence for this review and it would have said it all.

After the show ended a stage worker was nice enough to tear a setlist off and give it to me. I looked it over carefully in the car home and was depressed to see that he had planned to do two encores, but only did one, which may actually have been for the best. I don't know if any of us could have taken any more and been able to salvage the memory. I'm still working on it.