Thankfully Bauhaus have managed to resume their world tour that was so rudely interrupted by Covid. Online evidence of their two huge shows in Mexico City show a band yet again back at the top of their game and this Saturday’s upcoming gig at the wonderful Alexandra Palace in London (last few tickets from https://www.alttickets.com/bauhaus-tickets ) will be further evidence of their resurrection – a true back from the dead tour! (Watch David J interview here )
1. In 2021 Bauhaus are bigger than ever and if the media generally ignores them because they are fixated on their own narrow definition of alternative music and culture we all know the real truth and this band’s huge influence and also capability of creating timeless ground breaking music is appreciated world wide.
2. Post-punk was a complex period with a million different escape routes and even more takes on the wild energy released by punk rock. Oddly this has never really been reflected in the given narrative which has somehow rebranded the period as something far more austere and narrow than it really was whilst elevating minor cult figures to scene leaders and ignoring the real innovators.
3. The tragedy of this is that Bauhaus have been endlessly labelled Goth which only tells a small part of their story. For sure there was a playful darkness about their muse that was, of course, attractive and thrilling but there was so much at play here. In many ways they were the true children of Ziggy and answering all the question marks thrown up by glam and then adding the adventure and the intense energy of punk to the mix whilst understanding the space of dub to play around in with the added groove of funk and disco.
4. Far from being a goth postcard the band were art rock pioneers and marrying myriad of forms into an adventurous musical journey of their own. If Bowie had spent the early seventies doing interviews that were a crash course for the ravers with book and culture lists for a small clutch of eager fans who wanted to enter the rabbit hole with tips on the dark trip it was the artful dodgers like the then youthful pre Bauhaus youth in Northampton that were picking up on these hints of somewhere beyond. Tips they would use to create their own distinctive and powerful adventure.
5. Adding a dollop of art rock Bauhaus immersed themselves in the mid seventies underground and when they came to record themselves you can hear their embrace of Eno, Marc, the Velvets, Iggy and so much more of the then frontier music but somehow melded into something that sounded futurist and mind melting and of their own.
6. Their dark glam was updated for the very different post punk era and they made it sound futuristic.
7. Bela Lugosi’s Dead invented dark dub…Massive Attack were listening and would eventually run with the concept. Savages were also immersed in their powerful shape shifting rhythms and guitar shrapnel – the list of bands taking their cue from Bauhaus could go on for ever and pops up in the most unlikely places. Musicians see them as innovators. Like many of the so called Goth bands that they never looked for being corralled into some sort of spurious scene and they understood the power of the dance floor. No matter how esoteric Bauhaus got or how many different styles they corral into their own muse they still play to the dance floor. The art of dance and the power of movement and the sex of the music was the ultimate media and many of their songs have become eternal hip swingers.
8. They were dark and they were also playful. They could switch from music concrete to brilliant joyful covers of Bowie, Bolan, Cale and Eno.
9. They never got on with much of the music media at the time – perhaps they were too flash and darkly glam for the dowdier dour dressed down cliche idea of the underground musician at the period. Bauhaus never shied away from a challenge and their made up, fishnet take on Bowie and Iggy Berlin all nighter madness looked great and was perfect challenge to the creeping conservatism of post punk.
10. They were innovators. Daniel Ash never plays a trad rock riff on his guitar – no boring solos – every note has a reason and his telecaster is stretched into many sounds, textures and nuance from e-bow drones to scratchy funk to dub shapes. The rhythm section is always inventive and the bass leads many songs – post punk was about all instruments in their own sexual space and Bauhaus were masters of that. Add to this Peter Murphy’s great voice that feed way beyond its Bowie roots and found many idiosyncratic nooks and crevices of its own.