Goth rock front man and mastermind Peter Murphy dazzled Vancouver’s Rickshaw Theatre. Promoting his new album Lion, Murphy lead a dedicated audience through a set of sombre gothic styled pop. Seasoned and professional, Murphy’s backing musicians weaved layers of dark tones which served as a backdrop for brooding tunes from throughout his prolific career. Supported by the distorted and energetic alternative rock of Austin based Ringo Deathstarr, Peter Murphy’s Lion tour demonstrates a strong connection between the post punk mastermind and modern gothic rock. Praised by scores of artists including Nine Inch Nails, Sound Garden, Marilyn Manson, Massive Attack, The Smashing Pumpkins, Bauhaus’ sombre vision had a critical influence upon multiple generations of musicians; Vocalist Peter Murphy and his band mates from Northampton England played a pivotal role in the creation of gothic rock.
Ringo Deathstarr, a three piece rock and roll outfit with some resemblance to the blistering distortion and pop sensibilities of the Eric’s Trip, warrant comparisons heavy to My Bloody Valentine and Methodrone era – Brian Jonestown Massacre via their expansive sonic textures. Light-hearted, fun yet driven by a sense of urgency, Ringo Deathstarr is a promising rock group bursting with energy and dreamy hooks. The band primed the stage well evenings’ enigmatic headliner.
Peter Murphy and his band, their speciality in the art of dim, brooding, fatal romantically styled ballads and thick slow burning rockers. Hinting at elements of torture in his manic vocals, Murphy demonstrates his continued ability to invoke darkness, uncertainty and passion in the opening number “Hang Up” from the recently released Lion. With heavy focus on the sinister arrangements from his new album, Murphy did not delve deep into his material from his seminal post-punk gothic group Bauhaus but instead selected cuts from throughout his extensive solo career. While previous Peter Murphy tours included hits like “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,”classic cuts on the Lion tour were regulated to “She’s in Parties” and “Silent Hedges.”
While his solo material is less renowned than the massively influential Bauhaus material, Murphy’s material shows no weakness in its continuation of brooding, nocturnal style ballads. Using tasteful electronic beats, Murphy pursues heart throbbing territory over minor key with stylistic similarity to the style of Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore. Murphy’s backing musicians, a tight knit rock group with guitars, drums, bass and keyboards also featured dark and passionate violin injections stoically performed behind Murphy’s ominous stage presence. All of the songs performed in the evening, while anchored in a dark cloak of poetic languish, showed considerable dynamic. A disco paced beat and fiercely demanding vocals “Eliza” showed no lack of emotion. Starting as a pensive and brooding number, the atmospheric charm of “Compression” grows with intensity until levelling out with a stomping, fiery confession.
With decades of touring experience and a full ten solo albums of dim fatal romanticism, Peter Murphy continues to add to his legacy as a glam rocker and tortured artist with another strong crafted set of songs and a strong touring band. The presentation of Lion demonstrates a modern continuation of the ongoing journey of experience and existence, tied to a strong musical legacy. Murphy need not worry about sounding outdated; his styles of, sullen and ominous atmospheres and savage passion are all the more admirable with the growth of electronic music and emotional vocalists. Murphy is a lion that can still roar.