TVD Live: Peter Murphy with She Wants Revenge at the 9:30 Club, 11/16

By Mukisa Williams

I’m sure that many people didn’t know how to react when first noticing this name on the 9:30 Club’s list of shows: Peter Murphy.

Whether as a member of early ’80s, gloom rock outfit Bauhaus or through his own somewhat haunting brand of pseudo-pop solo work—a deep and prototypical catalog in total, Murphy has always managed to deliver as a showman of showmen. However, I think that it’s fair to say that Murphy is often overlooked and unheralded as a post-punk and experimental monarch.

Enter: She Wants Revenge, a band whose appeal and energy respectfully borrows and extends from the gothic subculture that Peter Murphy and his contemporaries helped to cultivate in song and stage.

Rare are those moments where students share the stage with their teachers. Even rarer are the times that such combinations work—as generations clash in the pit and stands. On a chilly and wet night on V Street, Peter Murphy descended upon DC with She Wants Revenge in tow for an appropriately late show that managed to defy the odds in many ways. Filled with both young and middle-aged kids who have been drawn to their brands of cold dance and aesthetic for years and years, shades of horror-glam rock’s original spirit was brought to the floor.

She Wants Revenge opened their set with “Sister” and energetically rolled through rich cuts from their latest album, Valleyheart. Justin Warfield is a front man whose cloth clearly has threads from Peter Murphy’s own creative fabric sewn deeply within it. Minimal yet very expressive from vocals to movements, Warfield’s presence is somehow strongly felt throughout their 12+ song set.

Having seen them twice before, they didn’t disappoint and matched their records to say the least. However, not until “These Things” was delivered did the crowd begin to sway or appear really moved by what was happening. Apparently, most people were either first timers seeing them live or just wanted to see Murphy as SWR polled the crowd to figure out if both points were true. Nonetheless, Warfield, Adam 12, and co. got the crowd going by closing out to “Red Flags and Long Nights,” “Take the World,” “Out of Control,” and “Tear You Apart.”

What ensued afterwards was a bit baffling as a lot of the crowd cleared out. However, the crowd maintained a good mix and it was obvious at the the remainders were dedicated and ready to see Peter Murphy.

Peter Murphy entered low-key, neatly dressed and to a rousing and lengthy ovation. Removed from the theatrics he was associated with during the peaks of his bands, side projects, and his solo work, Murphy and his band appeared simple, cool, and ready to put on a show. Very interesting to see a 20-25 year old screaming, saying that she’s “not worthy” and has waited her whole life for this moment.

Peter Murphy began his set with “All Night Long” and worked his way through new songs including “Velocity Bird,” and “Peace to Each” from Ninth. It’s hard to state how professional Peter Murphy is. Having seen him live before with Bauhaus, this night was no different in many ways from delivery, range and showmanship as he danced and posed throughout.

He also appeared to be genuine and appreciative of playing to DC. It definitely became even more obvious as the night progressed. After an acoustic medley of “Strange Kind of Love” and “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” Murphy opened up a bit to the crowd by playfully mentioning that the “epic Bela Lugosi’s Dead” was really supposed to be “Bela Lugosi’s Dad.” Even calling out for song requests, Murphy definitely got the crowd to feed off of him as he and his band vibrantly continued through more songs from Love Hysteria and Deep—even sneaking in “Silent Hedges” and his own version of “Hurt.” Everyone left within the 9:30 Club at this point was treated to two encores a couple of songs after this—Bauhaus staples such as “All We Ever Wanted,” “She’s In Parties” and Murphy’s major hit, “Cuts You Up” left people feeling like it was 1983 again.

By the time that “Ziggy Stardust” appropriately closed the night out as the second encore, it seemed like performances such as Murphy’s are really as close to the cream as I’ll ever get. Peter Murphy and his band were gracious—thankfully bowing and grabbing people at show’s end.

And I think Murphy gave everyone in attendance all we ever wanted from him… which was everything.

Photos by Dave Barnhouser, 13th Hour Photography

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