Feb 2012 05

Washington, DC, The 9:30 Club 11/16/2011


The opening act of the evening, a young, darker edged rock band that showed promise, introduced a song called “Children of the Underground” by calling it “a song about us.” The “children of the underground” were out in full force for the late show with a founding father of goth and the latest wave of dark synth/rock.


She Wants Revenge took the stage first, sounding far heavier live than their synth-driven recordings would suggest. One audience member was overheard after their set saying that they could be a headliner on their own. Singer Adam Bravin engaged the crowd by commenting on the amusing coincidence that Christian band Owl City had played at the 9:30 Club earlier that night, and delivered strong vocal performances of both older and newer songs. While their recent album, Valleyheart received mixed reviews from fans, the band played two of its strongest tracks, “Little Stars” and “Up in Flames,” and their latest single, “Take the World” got the crowd dancing and singing along. They mixed things up with a slowed down, piano-driven rendition of “These Things,” and ended on a high note with their biggest hit, “Tear You Apart,” quite possibly the best song to close any concert set. It’s a constant crescendo, a rising orgasm of a song, and its bass-heavy, raw yet polished melody is especially powerful live. The closing line, sung after an immediate cessation of the musical track, “I wanna fucking tear you apart,” left the audience satisfied yet ready for more.


Because, as good as She Wants Revenge were, Peter Murphy was who the crowd came to see. Even the band acknowledged this – keyboardist Justin Warfield expressed disappointment that not enough people were dancing, but noted that they were “saving [their] energy for Peter Murphy.” Shortly before the end of their set, Bravin recognized Murphy as “someone who influenced us and so many other artists.” And Murphy did not let down his fans. His set opened with “All Night Long” and closed with his most famous solo song, “Cuts You Up,” with several highlights in between. The 54-year-old Murphy danced around the stage, cracked jokes (after segueing from “Strange Kind of Love” to “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” he said, “It was once called ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dad’”) and solicited requests from the audience. This led into a moving, flawless performance of the masterpiece of his solo career, “I’ll Fall with Your Knife,” showcasing his rich baritone voice.


It’s that voice – deep and dark, yet capable of soaring to great heights – that makes Peter Murphy the enduring artist that he is. He is one of the best singers the gothic music scene has, if not the best. For someone who was lukewarm toward Murphy’s latest release Ninth, the energetic performances of “I Spit Roses” and “Memory Go” revealed a power in those songs not felt in the recordings. However, the centerpiece, the moment everyone in the audience would remember long after the show was over, was the cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” Only accompanied by a piano and soft drum, Murphy held the crowd in silence, and reduced more than one person to tears, as he let his voice carry the song. With his energy, creativity, and that voice showing no sign of fading, Peter Murphy can still enthrall audiences. Overall, it was a great night for the children of the underground.


Elizabeth Green (salomedesade)
Photographs by Katherine Gaines (AmbientEye)
Courtesy of AmbientEye Photography – http://www.ambienteye.com



1 Comment

  1. Luke says:

    Great ReView! The photos look really cool too…

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