Show Review: Peter Murphy and She Wants Revenge with Hussle Club and Reckless in Vegas at the Fillmore, 12/4/2011

by Jonathan Pirro on December 5, 2011

Peter Murphy at the Fillmore

Peter Murphy at the Fillmore

When one dips into the dark nebula of the world of post-punk, they are likely to find a world that seems to live between a variety of different spaces that make up the more solidly-defined genres of classical music. Songs can shift in intensity unexpectedly, from a thrashing fury that encourages stomping and raised fists, to a slow, steady groove that tempts even the toughest of those aforementioned rockers out onto the dance floor, and often times the two are well intertwined. It is one of the only genres that can be accurately applied to a band and not immediately subject them to a small pigeonhole of a classification, for enough acts have graced the scene throughout the decades that the label “post-punk” is sure to conjure up a plethora of images in one’s mind at first thought. Therefore, as a nod to how wide the span and definition has shifted over the last 30 years, two acts were chosen to kick off December at the Fillmore with an evening of shadowy, danceable mayhem: the Los Angeles duo known as She Wants Revenge, and Peter Murphy, best known as the frontman of Northampton goth rock godfathers Bauhaus.

Brian Wilkerson and Michael Shapiro of Reckless in Vegas

Mario Cipollina and Michael Shapiro of Reckless in Vegas

Perhaps in an effort to rouse the tired crowd that had drifted early into the Fillmore on a Sunday evening, opening act Reckless In Vegas kicked things off with a remarkably short, but explosive, set, which was drenched in a whiskey-soaked brand of retro-styled rock-and-roll that gave more than a few nods to a very punk school of thought. Singer-songwriter Michael Shapiro, himself no stranger to a blues-infected brand of power chords and smoky tunes, led the trio (which included bassist Mario Cipollina, originally from the classic Huey Lewis and The News lineup)¬†through a 20-minute set and barely paused for a breath between songs, finally grinding out the final notes just before the hour of 8pm. Mere minutes after the first band’s gear had been cleared off the stage, the New York quintet known as Hussle Club hurled themselves onto the stage, and proceeded to remain in complete chaotic motion for nearly 40 minutes straight. The band churned out a smudgy, snarling brand of grimy dance punk, peppered with sprinkling synths and thunderous drums, all headed by the wild and charismatic moves of frontman, and lead songwriter, Prince Terrence. It was a seemingly effortless blend of the striking soul-punk of TV On The Radio laced with the electronic grooves of Depeche Mode, and despite being offered one of the shorter sets of the evening, the group used their time well, seeing any moment not spent dancing as a moment clearly wasted.

Prince Terrence of Hussle Club

Prince Terrence of Hussle Club

Though not possessed of the dancefloor mayhem that their predecessors had churned through the first two hours of the evening with, She Wants Revenge showed, once again, that they knew how to hold their own for over an hour as they took residence in one of their favorite haunts. Band frontman Justin Warfield traded duties between singer-guitarist and slowly-revolving crooner, undulating with a serpentlike groove around the stage, while maintaining his well-known, Ian Curtis-esque tenor that pierced the dark grooves like silver on velvet. Warfield’s cohort Adam Bravin maintained a stoic presence while keeping a solid bass rhythm for the course of their set, occasionally surveying the crowd behind his stack of synthesizers, such as for a slower, shimmery version of “These Things”, and an untitled solo piano piece played about halfway through the set. The band’s set primarily focused on their May release Valleyheart, though more than a few numbers from their sophomore effort This Is Forever¬†were thrown in, as well as the classic hits “Out Of Control” and “Tear You Apart” from their self-titled debut, and the crowd seemed to consume each and every minute with rapture, with several rows of the audience keeping their hands in the air as they swayed back and forth to the seductive tunes.

Adam Brevin and Justin Warfield of She Wants Revenge

Adam Brevin and Justin Warfield of She Wants Revenge

As popular as She Wants Revenge’s set had been, however, the wild screaming that accompanied the arrival of Peter Murphy at the late hour of 10:45pm was filled with an excitement that was unmatched that evening. After a richly morose and haunting cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”, and the slow-burn thunder of “Burning From The Inside”, a classic from his Bauhaus catalogue, Peter was clearly ready to kick the energy up for the evening, and did so without fail, throwing himself immediately into “Velocity Bird”, the fist-pumping opener to his new record, Ninth. The rest of his set would prove to have the same level of precision and lack of pause, with only a few words exchanged with the audience throughout the set as he cranked out song after song, all the while gesticulating back and forth, a demonic but sensuous energy in his movements back and forth across the stage.

Peter Murphy and guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite

Peter Murphy and guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite

Those who were patient enough to stay for the late hour of Peter’s arrival, and the subsequent hour-and-a-half set that followed, were rewarded with a set that bounced between three of his solo records, a timespan of over 20 years, while primarily being focused on his 2011 release. Small surprises were in store for the crowd as well, such as Peter taking up guitar for his performance of “Strange Kind Of Love” and adding a brief tease of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” for the more passionate Bauhaus fans, or a keyboard hoisted onstage for a few of the later songs. Extra Bauhaus classics such as “Dark Entries” and “Silent Hedges” were also thrown in, and those unfamiliar with Peter’s newer work found something else to be wildly ecstatic about as the evening went on. The encore itself was a massive surprise to everyone, when, after a somber and glorious performance of “Your Face” from his 2002 release Dust, Peter departed from the stage, and half the crowd had departed under the harsh glare of the house lights before he suddenly reappeared for a surprise second encore of “Cuts You Up” and his classic cover of “Ziggy Stardust” to bring a fantastic close to the night.

Showing off his moves

Showing off his moves

Despite having seen Bauhaus live a few times in the past, being able to witness Peter’s live solo performance was a true treat, especially for one such as myself who has had a burgeoning love of the post-punk scene for several years now and always welcomes a new opportunity to see faces old and new in the genre. I have witnessed She Wants Revenge for many years running — a few times at the Fillmore, in fact — and this performance was definitely as solid as they had ever been, with their new material offering a fresh direction for them to take their performance and styles in. The opening acts, as well, cemented their place at the famous San Francisco venue, and will no doubt return, perhaps as headliners of their own tours, so intense is their energy even in such brief moments. It is rare to see an evening that spans so much music and offers delights from all of its acts, but Sunday night’s show certainly fit the bill — with flying colors.

Peter Murphy's setlist

Peter Murphy's setlist

Jonathan Pirro

Off-kilter multimedia enthusiast.

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