Bauhaus

Bauhaus

Bauhaus | Hope
Alexandra Palace, London
30th October 2021

Following up from John Robb’s recent article regarding why Bauhaus were the true children of Ziggy and the most innovative post punk adventurers, and John Robb’s swift summary of the Ally Pally here… Keith Goldhanger attends their delayed London Alexandra Palace show to see if they’re still as good as we remember.

There are many things that didn’t exist back in 1979 when Bauhaus released, to our astonishment, an amazing nine-minute debut tune by the name of Bela Lugosi’s Dead. Mobile phones, Halloween (in the UK), the four members of tonight’s superb support band HOPE and the music genre labelled ‘goth’ are just a few. All these years later, those of us with very fond memories of the shows we saw that followed this release, as well as everything they released after, have gathered in North London’s huge Alexandra Palace venue for a night of nostalgia, hoping to witness everything Bauhaus still have left in their tank after all these years. This could go either way for those of us uncomfortable with experiencing shows by bands we used to love, however it needs pointing out from the start that this show is magnificent. Tonight, we see Bauhaus still being Bauhaus, and not a group of struggling individuals seeing what they can still get away with after years of alternative projects. Tonight, we see the continuation of Bauhaus, still playing the tunes we remember and providing us with nothing new to distract us from the reasons we’re here – because we don’t need distractions when the band have such a back catalogue of classics to play us that we haven’t heard for a while but still know all the words to.

One or two of us are also here to celebrate seeing Berlin four-piece Hope in this vast arena, once spotted down the Shacklewell Arms one Sunday afternoon and caught up with again a few times later around the UK when they returned back sparodically (Liverpool Sound City, Mirrors Festival in Camden). This, one or two of us would suggest, is the ideal band to support the Northampton quartet.

Hope
Hope

After the magnificent remix of Hope’s Shame by David J last year, some of us see the inclusion of this band on the bill as a small victory for common sense. Hope were born to perform in front of a crowd such as this, and their haunting atmospheric set of songs fit in perfectly with the theme of the night. Coming here from Berlin and driving home again isn’t as straightforward nowadays as it used to be (which is something else that didn’t exist back in the early ’80s) thanks to the state of this country. Nowadays, this involves much form filling, picture-taking of equipment and time-consuming queues at borders just to get here.

Anyone looking for any of the support bands’ merchandise tonight are left with nothing but memories to take home (and the odd phone footage of course) of a superb, intense half an hour that is as beautiful as anyone could possibly offer on a dark October night. Plodding drums, loud atmospheric electronics, a haunting guitar and a voice so clear, intense and captivating it leaves those here glued to the spot, enjoying the moment. Hope returning to these shores this weekend is as great as seeing Bauhaus at the Moonlight Club again in 1980. Hope are doing some great stuff and some of us are now hoping a second album may arrive some day. Seeing this on a big stage and so loud is joyous.

BauhausThe moment Bauhaus arrive we know it’s them. Daniel Ash still has the hair, shiny jacket and low slung guitar on the right. The sharp-dressed David J in his sunglasses stands over on the left, with Pete Murphy centre-stage as always, with the big hat, cloak, cane, swagger, the voice and the cheekbones. They all have the cheekbones still, as it turns out, and even though the high kicks from the frontman may not be as high as they once were, this band give us everything we came here for.

It’s a slow start but once we’re settled in we get She’s In Parties, Kick In The Eye and Bela Lugosi’s Dead all during one glorious twenty minutes or so. Once this selection is over, we’re beginning to list everything we haven’t heard for decades in our heads and get pretty much everything we can think of for the rest of the evening (In a Flat Field, Spy in the Cab, God in an Alcove, Passion of Lovers…).

BauhausDaniel Ash’s guitar still screams of distorted feedback and reverb, the saxaphone comes out of course during the evening, Pete Murphy keeps himself busy with the occasional electronics, additional percussion and works with the lights more than he feels he needs to work the crowd. Tribal drums, recognisable tight bass lines (Kick in the Eye especially) and the superb (stong) vocals complete everything we hoped to get.

The show ends with Dark Entries before the band return to give us the cover versions they made their own (Ziggy Stardust/Telegram Sam) and punters are left puzzled at the end discussing whether Pete Murphy’s final words were either ‘This is the last show we’ll ever do or this is not the last show we’ll ever do…’

They then return for a final time, acoustic guitars out and serenade us with All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

BauhausIf that’s the end then this was a fine performance to bow out on, if it’s not then hopefully any further shows are incorporated again with bands that may also suit the same audience (this list is huge). A night of great decisions and a fabulous way to spend a Saturday evening. The wait for this to happen was worth it, we got all we ever wanted of course. Nothing more , nothing less. Bauhaus still Bauhaus, that’s all we ever wanted.

~

Words by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV).

Photos by Naomi Dryden-SmithLouder Than War | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | portfolio

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Keith Goldhanger -- Spent the '90s as a frontman with London noise merchants HEADBUTT - spent the '80s in 'Peel favourites' BASTARD KESTREL. Spent a few years mashing up tunes and remixing bands as HIDEOUS WHEEL INVENTION. Is often out and about getting in the way of things and bumping his head on low ceilings - Will give your band the time of day but will dislike any band that balances full pints of alcohol on the top of guitar amps (Not keen on lead singers that wear hats either).

11 COMMENTS

  1. Was there! great gig, loud and Murphy sung as strong as the records if not better with a deeper growl in some parts. but preferred Resurrection tour gig at brixton academy in 1996, smaller venue, same with The Forum in 2006. They are heavier live though. Finished bit early was expecting 2 hours :( still superb to see them

  2. I don’t know where Goldhanger grew up, but Halloween definitely exited in Scotland in the seventies, although not as Americanised and without any costumes for sale in the shops.

    Great review. Wish I’d been there. Hopefully it was “not the last”. Thanks for the pointer to Hope, as well.

  3. I was introduced to Bauhaus in 1988 – a double sided cassette and have always wanted to see them live. I was unsure how they would sound but Saturday’s gig was fantastic and I agree that by focusing on their hits there was nothing to complain about. I also was also concerned that they would be somehow geriatric but they simply played to their strengths. Fingers crossed they will be back again.

  4. A great show with many (if not all) of the classics and the band on great form. He definitely said, “This is not the last show we will ever do”, as evidenced on YouTube, so fear not.

  5. Agree with almost everything you say, it was an awesome gig/return by a group who set the bar so high that there was always a danger that this might be a disappointment. It wasn’t, every member was on it and the combination of the 4 of them was as good as it ever had been, this wasn’t a cash in at all, it was amazing.
    I’d disagree about the start of the gig, as I thought that opening with the heavy circular baseline and screeching guitar of ‘rose garden’ was the perfect 1st song, and followed by ‘double dare’ and ‘In the flat field’ absolutely got the show off to the perfect start for me.

  6. I don’t think we were at the same venue. Almost all reviewers raved about it, but I found the beginning dull and slow, the middle 20 mins with Bela Lugosi and Kick In The Eye was very good, but went down hill after that. One friend gave up and went home early.
    A quick review of nine friends all agreed on a 6/10 rating.

  7. A great review, Keith, and exactly as I experienced things on Saturday night. As a long Bauhaus fan, I had some trepidation as to whether they would turn up and deliver something worthy of the COVID delays, venue, reputation, and material of old – thankfully they did, in abundance. All four of them were tight, masterful and sonically resplendent (if dark rock fits that). On any metric it was an excellent show by four accomplished musicians, old boys or not. Bauhaus still have it…

    Oh, and I stood through Hope’s set, whilst a lot of people still seemed to be in the concourse, I’m glad I did. Great young band with some interesting material.

  8. Fantastic gig in a wonderful venue . Giggled when a fellow old goth said in the bar next door ‘it’s like being in Wetherspoons in hell’!
    Would’ve loved to hear Lagartija Nick and Spirit perhaps as an encore – but that’s not a complaint… just greedy for it all!!

  9. Nice review. Not sure where Keith gets his information from but Halloween most certainly did exist in the UK in the 1970s. It wasn’t the mass commercial enterprise it is now and I don’t remember stuff like trick or treating but there was certainly apple bobbing and carving lanterns out of turnips (no pumpkins here then – not round my way at least!). This idea that the Americans invented Halloween is nonsense.

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