The Bauhaus is coming to town, folks. It takes place on Friday, May 27. Sure, tickets are expensive, but it’s Bauhaus, dudes and dudettes. Here’s why you should go.
Like many people who were teenagers in the 1980s, I discovered the Bauhaus for the first time in 1983 when the film Hunger began. In the opening credits, a somewhat menacing Peter Murphy, Bauhaus lead singer and future acclaimed solo artist, is featured as the band’s first-ever single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” plays.
I didn’t know who they were, because they weren’t credited in the movie, but that song. Wow. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is the gothic song par excellence. He carves an austere conception of what gothic music should be on the frontal lobe and never lets go. It can still give me chills, even though I’ve heard it a million times and even covered it once for a Halloween show with my band.
Over the next two years, in the mid-80s, I became aware of the goth/post-punk pioneers of Northampton, England. But by then, when I was really discovering them, they had already disbanded (for the first time) in 1983, the same year as Hunger came out of. I remember being so disappointed thinking that I would never see one of my favorite bands.
To say the Bauhaus was an important part of the soundtrack of my middle and high school years is an understatement. The emergence of Love and Rockets, which included Bauhaus bassist David J (Haskins), guitarist Daniel Ash and drummer Kevin Haskins, only reinforced my love for their previous band. I also loved Tones on Tail, which featured Ash, Haskins and a former Bauhaus roadie, Glen Campling.
A few years ago, Kevin Haskins and Daniel Ash brought their project, Poptone, to the Marquee for a stellar show. They played a bunch of Tones on Tail stuff and it was great to see and hear. You can check out my article on this show here.
Back to the band we all love, though…
The talent and creativity of the four members of the Bauhaus have just flowed from their first four records. It made my teenage desire to see them even stronger. If time machines were a thing, it would be amazing to take a trip to Northampton on New Years Eve 1978 and see the band’s very first gig. Punk and post-punk were just beginning, and one can only imagine what the facial expressions of the crowd that got to see that very first concert looked like. I have to believe there were several people in the audience wondering what the heck the Bauhaus was doing, then known as Bauhaus 1919.
In the roughly four years the band was initially active, they released some of my favorite records. Influential records, if you think about it, that help create countless bands. Let’s think together:
Would there have been a Nine Inch Nails without the Bauhaus?
What would Depeche Mode have looked like if there had been no Bauhaus?
Tool? If you stop and think about it, there’s a lot of Bauhaus influence in the genre-defying band. I bet Maynard James Keenan still comes out of the Bauhaus once in a while.
I often think, listening to Alien Sex Fiend, for example, that they must have said at some point, “Let’s play like Bauhaus, just a lot weirder.”
The problem with playing like Bauhaus, however, is that you really can’t do it. No one has yet succeeded or, indeed, surpassed what Murphy, Haskins, Haskins and Ash have done on records like In the flat field (1980), Mask (nineteen eighty one), The sky has faded (1982), and Burn from within (1983). Even their fifth disc, go white (2008), is better than many of the bands they’ve influenced, although it lacks a truly memorable track.
For my money, even though the five LPs are all worthy of several regular rounds, you just can’t beat the Bauhaus live album, Press eject and give me the tape (1982) and their 4AD EP (1983). Press the eject button…features the band in their live glory and provides an excellent version of John Cale’s great song, “Rose Garden Funeral of Sores”. During the first shows of this ongoing tour, Bauhaus opened the show with this really badass cover. I remember how my parents made cute faces with its opening line when I discovered it and played it loud as often as possible.
“The Virgin Mary was tired. Tired of listening to gossip. Gossip and complaints.
The song is also featured on the 4AD EP, but that’s not why I like it. I love it for the version of “Terror Couple Kill Colonel”. It was a song from the time of In the flat field sessions that didn’t make early versions of this record. David J’s bassline on “Terror Couple Kill Colonel” is just one of his many killer basslines, but for this writer, it gets the blood pumping every time. The end of the EP, “Crowds”, is also quite memorable, a great break-up song if ever there was one.
Unfortunately, none of these songs appear to be on the setlist the band played on this leg of what will most likely be their farewell tour. Hopefully there will be more Bauhaus, but with the sometimes combative nature of the relationship between Murphy and the rest of the band, you never know.
It may be wishful thinking, but hopefully there’s a group of teenage musicians in the crowd at the shows on this current Bauhaus tour (if they can afford it) who are inspired to create weird, dark, rhythmically propelling bands with a buzzsaw guitar sound. It would be worth it, because the world needs more Bauhaus, or at the very least, groups striving to reach similar heights.
Bauhaus. Friday, May 27, at the Marquee Theater, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe. Doors 6:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are available here.