vəˈräɡō/: a woman of strength or spirit; a female warrior.

Peter Murphy: Thirty-five year retrospective at the Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA

The lead singer of Ours, the warmup band from NYC, was a student when compared to the master of goth. Studied and graceful, his performance showed technical proficiency, but lacked the je ne sais quoi of Peter Murphy. Perhaps he was nervous. After all, he was opening for the singer who started a musical movement with Bauhaus back in 1978, but Ours was a great opener for the show, and should be commended for their efforts. During the break the club played Murphy’s new material that will be released in the fall. It took a very long time for Mr. Moonlight to get to the stage, so we watched the techs tune and retune the instruments.

Peter Murphy at Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
Peter Murphy at Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA

It’s probably hard to open for a legend, and tune up for a legend, and Murphy is a legend – one that stands up to the test of time. Like the Cold One he played in the Twilight Series, Murphy must be part vampire because he has barely aged in voice and countenance. His dangerous fierceness has given way to an elegant confidence. He moved with an easy muscular strut in his black leather outfit rather than his usual sinuous sensuality, but his voice still held one helplessly seduced. His passion and intensity maintained the focus with a backing band probably half his age. His holding back was palpable — in favor of what I can only term a fatherly encouragement. His close presence bringing out the best in his backing band as he individually gave each attention in turn. Admittedly, the backing band lacked the artsy nuances of Bauhaus, but they kicked it under Murphy’s guiding hand.

The Mr. Moonlight show started off in total darkness with “King Volcano” setting the mood in a dreamy madrigal preparing us for the coming explosion. As the lights came up at the end of the first song, the band continued with more early Bauhaus willfully challenging the audience to give in to the intensity as Mark Gemini Thwaite (guitar), Emilio China (bass), and Nick Lucero (drums), punched their way through the numbers with noise and feedback.

Peter Murphy, bassist Emilio China, and drummer Nick Lucero
Peter Murphy, bassist Emilio China, and drummer Nick Lucero

Once the band was warmed up, a full-throttle groove emerged. Murphy played with the audience, aware of the phones recording his every move occasionally looking into the lens of a recording device. His time spent living in Turkey came through in his cool yet compassionate gestures throughout the show. It was almost meditative. Sometimes slow and intense his alignment soared in “Kick In The Eye” and “She’s In Parties” winding down into “The Three Shadows, Part 1” paying close attention to the precision in his guitar playing. Murphy offered the haunting a capella of “Cool Cool Breeze,” and powered up with a nap on the stage as he, Thwaite and China all lay down for a well deserved rest, continuing to play. This led into a powerful “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything,” and the two energetic encores.

Starting out with the wonderful “Passion of Lovers.” Murphy seemed to be having a great time and his voice resounded through the club as he gave it his all -roaring and yowling like a cat. It was only at the end, when Murphy seemed to be playing the role of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, that he entered his androgynous state. Not only singing “Ziggy” with perfection, but adding in phrases of “Be My Wife” during the last songs, going in and out of character as it suited him. Murphy seemed like he was just getting started as they left the stage for the night, undaunted by age.

About Jessica Fisher-Willson

Jessica Fisher-Willson
Jes (Arts & Independent Music Editor) is a nerd girl who needs constant validation. To this end she invented White Light Tarot TM, a reiki-tarot deck that validates one's concerns and helps balance one's energy. It is available as an online app, a download for free, or as a book and tarot deck available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and White Light Tarot's website, as well as finer independent New Age purveyors. Mostly she is writing fiction as fast as she can and learning to be socially media-phoric. http://jessicafisherwillson.com/
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