Goth and Industrial

If You Weren't Sure About Seeing Bauhaus in Tempe This Weekend, Give It One More Thought

Goth legends, Bauhaus, visit Tempe on Friday, May 27th.
Goth legends, Bauhaus, visit Tempe on Friday, May 27th. Gary Bandfield
Bauhaus is coming to town, people. It’s happening on Friday, May 27. Sure, tickets are pricey, but it’s Bauhaus, dudes and dudettes. Here’s why you should go.

Like many people who were teenagers in the 1980s, I first became aware of Bauhaus in 1983 as the movie The Hunger began. During the opening credits, a somewhat menacing Peter Murphy, Bauhaus lead singer and future solo artist of some renown, is featured prominently as the band’s first-ever single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” plays.

I didn’t know who they were, as they were uncredited in the film, but that song. Wow. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is the preeminent goth song. It etches a stark design of what goth music should be right 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.

As the next couple of years in the mid-'80s ticked away, I became keenly aware of the goth/post-punk pioneers from Northampton, England. At that point, though, as I was truly discovering them, they had already disbanded (for the first time) in 1983, the same year that The Hunger came out. I can remember being so bummed thinking that I would never get to see one of my favorite bands.

To say that Bauhaus was an important part of the soundtrack of my junior and senior year of high school is a bit of an understatement. The emergence of Love and Rockets, which featured Bauhaus bassist David J (Haskins), guitar player Daniel Ash, and drummer Kevin Haskins, only strengthened my love for their earlier 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 that show here.

Back to the band we all love, though...

The talent and creativity of the four members of Bauhaus just dripped from their first four early records. This made my teenage desire to see them even stronger. If time machines were a thing, it would be amazing to take a trip back to Northampton on New Year’s Eve 1978 and see the band’s first-ever gig. Punk and post-punk were still just beginning, and one can only imagine what the facial expressions of the crowd who got to see that very first gig was like. I must believe there were several people in the audience who were wondering what in the hell Bauhaus, then known as Bauhaus 1919, were doing.

In the four or so years the band was initially active, they cranked out some of my favorite records. Influential records, if you think about it, that help spawn countless bands. Let’s ponder together:

Could there have been a Nine Inch Nails without Bauhaus?

What would Depeche Mode have sounded like if there was no Bauhaus?

Tool? If you stop and think about it, there is a lot of Bauhaus influence in the genre-defying band. I bet Maynard James Keenan still busts out some Bauhaus every once in a while.

I often think, when 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 thing about playing like Bauhaus, though, is that you really can’t do it. No one has pulled it off yet or, quite truthfully, has surpassed what Murphy, Haskins, Haskins, and Ash did on records like In The Flat Field (1980), Mask (1981), The Sky’s Gone Out (1982), and Burning From The Inside (1983). Even their fifth record, Go Away White (2008), is better than a lot of the bands they have influenced, even if it lacks a truly memorable track.

For my money, as much as the five LPs are all worthy of multiple, regular spins, you simply can’t beat Bauhaus’ live album, Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape (1982) and their 4AD EP (1983). Press the Eject… features the band in its live glory and provides an excellent version of John Cale’s great song, “Rose Garden Funeral of Sores.” On the first few shows of this current tour, Bauhaus has been opening the show with this truly badass cover. I remember how it made my parents make some pretty funny faces with its opening line when I discovered it and played it loud as often as possible.

“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 love it. I love it for the version of “Terror Couple Kill Colonel.” This was a song from around the time of the In The Flat Field sessions that did not make the early versions of that record. David J’s bass line on “Terror Couple Kill Colonel” is just one of his many killer bass lines, but to this writer, it gets the blood pumping every time. The EP’s ender, “Crowds” is also quite memorable, a great breakup song if there ever was one.

Sadly, neither of those songs seem to be on the setlist the band has been playing on this leg of what will most likely be their farewell tour. Hopefully, there will be more from Bauhaus, but with the sometimes-combative nature of the relationship between Murphy and the rest of the band, you just never know.

It may be wishful thinking, but I hope there are a bunch of teenage musicians in the crowd at the shows on this current Bauhaus tour (if they can afford it) that are inspired to start some weird, dark, rhythmically propulsive bands with a buzzsaw guitar sound. That would make it all worthwhile, because the world needs more Bauhaus, or at the very least, bands who strive to reach similar heights.

Bauhaus. Friday, May 27, at Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 8. Tickets are available here.
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Tom Reardon has written for Phoenix New Times since 2013. He's been in several notable bands over the last 25 years including Hillbilly Devilspeak, North Side Kings, and the Father Figures.
Contact: Tom Reardon