Friday, July 8, 2011

Peter Murphy - Live at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA, June 29, 2011 - Review

The Troubadour is a legendary Los Angeles venue, so when the opportunity came up to see Peter Murphy there, I couldn't refuse - even if it meant driving six hours! Hot on the heels of his newly-released album, Ninth, the LA show was the final performance of a short, California promotional tour.

Peter Murphy took the stage to roaring applause, opening with Burning From The Inside - the title track from his former band Bauhaus' 1983 album. An abrupt stop transformed the song into Ninth's Iggy-fueled Velocity Bird. Although the opening three songs were high energy, the show really took off with the performance of his new single I Spit Roses. The band, consisting of the same members that I've seen over the last couple of tours - Mark Thwaite - guitar, Nick Lucero - drums and Jeff Schwartoff - bass - are solid. Although I didn't notice any problems with the vocals, Murphy seemed to be having issues the entire night.

One thing that I noticed over the last couple tours is that Peter Murphy now really likes to talk on stage. Breaking down the barrier between performer and audience, he commands the stage as a seasoned pro. He took about a ten minute break to playfully tease the sound guy, have a male audience member grab his chest and then refer to himself as not a goth, but a 'vintage hipster.' LOL.

If you didn't already know, Murphy had a cameo in Eclipse - the third film in the Twilight saga. While filming, he struck up a friendship with an actor who happened to be a big fan of his music. That guy is Billy Burke, who portrays Bella's father in all of the films. Sure enough, Billy Burke comes out on stage to sing backup vocals on the Bauhaus tune Silent Hedges. Then Murphy switches to keyboards and starts up Love Hysteria's My Last Two Weeks, with Burke on lead vocals. These two guys seemed like old friends, and it was a charming moment to experience. By the way, Burke's vocals sounded damn good.

Nothing was played from his first album, or any other tracks from Love Hysteria. The Deep album was represented by Deep Ocean Vast Sea and a cool version of Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem with Murphy on 12-string.

Obviously the main focus of the show was on his new record - Peace To Each, Seesaw Sway, Memory Go and Uneven & Brittle - all sounded intense, with Brittle being my favorite from Ninth. In the live setting, it was nothing short of brilliant. An unreleased track from the Ninth sessions, Gaslight, had the vibe of some of the more ambient tracks from his 1995 album, Cascade. Hopes are for Nettwerk (his label) to release it, along with two other unreleased songs as an EP. Speaking of Cascade, an emotional version of I'll Fall With Your Knife was one of the show's best moments.

Other highlights were his phenomenal cover of The Stooges' Raw Power, and a really intense version of Stigmata Martyr from Bauhaus' first album - complete with PM singing backwards right before the ending invocation. The show ended with a dedication to his friend Trent Reznor before he belted out a stunning rendition of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt - check out a live video at the bottom of this post.

A huge thank you to Christy Borgman who was gracious enough to share her beautiful photographs here. Check out her other work at LA Woman Photography.

PM made it clear that he'll be back out on the road in September, so stayed tuned for tour date announcements. In the meantime, be sure to sink your teeth into his new album, Ninth. You can check out my review here. Keep up with daily postings by clicking LIKE on my Facebook Page. Cheers! - Bret

Songs Performed
Silent Hedges (w/ Billy Burke on backing vox)
My Last Two Weeks (w/ B. Burke on lead vox, PM on keys)
Gaslight (unreleased song)
Raw Power (Stooges cover)
Hurt (Nine Inch Nails cover)

If you're a vinyl enthusiast, check out our feature on the Spin Clean Vinyl Record Cleaning Machine (click image below)

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  1. What do you think those numbers represent, written after each song? Perhaps a programming note for Nick Lucero?

  2. Perhaps they are... or maybe something to do with backing tracks or effects settings.

  3. Bret...this should be published in L.A. Great work, and better yet- GREAT representation of one of our favorite shared artists. I've had a lot of fun listening to and loving Peter Murphy with you over the past eleven years! cheers...

  4. Thanks Tom, that means a lot. :) Next time he's in PHX we shall all go together like in the good ol' daze.

  5. Great review! I caught him when he stopped in Rome during the European leg of the Ninth Tour, and ended up having one of the greatest concert moments of my life.

    The club where he'd been originally booked cancelled at the last minute, so they had to relocate to a small, intimate club on the outskirts of town. I'd initially planned on taking it easy on the booze, but when he broke into The Silent Hedges, I had to celebrate. Without thinking, I ordered a Long Island at the bar. Famous last words.

    After the show I was feeling elated and more than a little hammered. Later, as I was standing around outside the venue, Murphy and his crew emerged and walked to their van, which was right where I was standing. I was about seven feet away from him as he was getting into the passenger seat, and in my drunken stupid I shouted, "HEY PETER!" It must have grabbed his attention to hear someone speaking English, because he looked up at me. I knew I had a split second to come up with something memorable, so I just said, "Thank you for making high school bearable!"

    A grin spread across his face, and he gave a modest nod, as if to say, "Happy to be of service," before disappearing into the van.

    God bless that man.

    1. Jonathan! I love hearing these kinds of stories. Back on the Cascade tour (when Jewel opened for PM), my brother and I ran up to him as he was getting into a vehicle, my brother pushed the CD cover through the window for him to sign... he started to grab the pen, and his manager said 'WE GOTTA GO'... PM looked at us and said 'Sorry mate.' Didn't get the autograph back then.... But....

      This is when it gets really good. Our band, Audra got to play with him back in November. He watched our show from the side of the stage, invited us to hang out with him in his dressing room afterwards.... and of all the years of playing shows with various bands, Peter Murphy was the coolest. He's not only a brilliant performer, but a total riot in person.

      If you'd like to see some pics, click on photos here:

      Thank you for stopping by...
      P.S. Congrats on your book... I followed the link on your page and downloaded it on Amazon... hopefully I'll have the time to get to it soon!

    2. Dude, thank you so much! Hope you enjoy it! I'd say I'd do the same for you, but I've been following you guys since I heard 'Hollywood' on the Projekt Sampler back in high school. I even caught your gig at the Trocadero during Projektfest '02. Would have loved to see you guys open for Murphy. If you and Bart ever find yourselves in Rome, hit me up and you've got a free tour guide (what I'm doing to pay the bills until I can live off my fiction.)

      BTW, I feel you on just barely missing an autograph. That happened to me with Patti Smith in Paris last year.