On Tuesday night I went to see Peter Murphy at Webster Hall. It’s maybe the 7th or 8th time I’ve seen him live, with Bauhaus and solo. He’s an incredible performer, and while last night’s show isn’t going to take top ranking in my personal list (that honor will always go to the Bauhaus reunion show at Hammerstein in 1998 — have fun spotting me in the front row with my little black bob and a big grin on my face), I’m always happy to have another opportunity to see one of my favorite artists live.
Peter (hello there, first-name basis) is currently touring in celebration of “35 years of Bauhaus” with all-Bauhaus sets, which I guess is kind of gimmicky since he’s never had any aversion to playing Bauhaus songs live in his solo shows, but hey — it sells tickets, and everyone gets to have a good time. It’s amazing to me how many complaints I’ve seen on music blogs about how this is all just a “money grab,” blah, blah, blah. PLEASE. He was the front man of one of the greatest rock bands ever, and his solo career is nothing to sneeze at either — how do those naysayers want him to make money? Bauhaus have already had three reunions since their initial disbanding in 1983, and none of them stuck.
If you have any sense of my taste in music, then you know that most of what I listen to was either recorded between the mid-’70s and early ’90s or is a contemporary recording by an artist who began a career during that era — in other words, between when I was born and when I ceased being a teenager. That’s not because I don’t think there’s great music being recorded now, it’s because those are the years when I was receptive to forming that kind of emotional attachment to songs and the people who write them. I never got to see a lot of my favorite bands live because I was born a few years too late (or in the wrong country). I’ll take any chance I can get to make up for it! Considering I was only 8 years old at the end of Bauhaus’s first run, I feel very, very lucky to been able to see them perform as a full band not only in 1998 but again in 2005…and every time Peter Murphy is in NYC, I’m there.
Here are some photos I took of Peter Murphy; after that, a few tips for a successful concert-going experience.
✚ Know what’s going on. I follow my favorite artists on Facebook and Twitter when possible, I subscribe to alert emails from the major ticket vendors, and I read blogs like Slicing Up Eyeballs and Brooklyn Vegan. As soon as a tour or specific show I’m interested in is announced, I add it to my calendar. If an on-sale time for tickets is available, I create an alert on my iPhone to remind me the morning of and 5 minutes before. I don’t trust my brain to remind me.
✚ Buy tickets right away. As in the minute they go on sale. Especially if you’re in a “destination” city like New York, since you’re competing for tickets not only with residents, but with people from all over the world. Really. In the old days this meant waiting on line for hours (or days — I slept on the sidewalk for two nights for Morrissey tickets in 1994), but now it just means making sure you can remember your Ticketmaster password. Yes, Ticketmaster is horrible, but it’s reality.
✚ General admission will always trump assigned seating, at least in my world. Yeah, I complain about my back hurting and stuff like that, but the truth is I don’t really enjoy myself much at concerts if I’m not standing up and dancing like a fool (“like a fool” = casually bobbing my head and occasionally hopping a bit), preferably within the first few rows. I realize that this isn’t really possible when it comes to bigger artists since they tend to play seated venues, but good ol’ GA will always be my calling.
✚ Get to the venue early. The number one comment I get when people see my concert photos is, “Wow, you’re so close!” Yes. I am so close. That’s not because I shove people out of the way or because I have some kind of special hookup, it’s because I understand that if the doors open at 7pm, I had better be waiting on line in front of the venue at LEAST an hour before that — several hours before if it’s someone with ultra-rabid fans (like Morrissey). It doesn’t matter if there are two awful opening bands and the headliner isn’t going on until 10pm, you still have to get there before the doors open if you want to be up in front. And for Pete’s sake, once you have your spot, DON’T MOVE. Prepare your bladder accordingly.
✚ Don’t bring a big bag. Aside from being annoying to carry all night, it’s also going to annoy everyone around you. I have a little pouch-type thing that I got from MUJI specifically for going to shows. I can either wear it cross-body or like a hip-pack, and it’s just big enough to hold my ticket, ID, a little cash, a MetroCard, lipstick and, of course, a comb. The comb is essential because my bangs always get sweaty during shows and I want to tidy them up afterwards.
✚ DON’T WATCH THE SHOW THROUGH YOUR PHONE. This is a huuuuuuuge pet peeve of mine. It drives me crazy to look around and see a quarter of the audience holding up their phones continuously. Yes, I usually take 2 or 3 iPhone photos during shows, but I’m quick about it — and I don’t post them to Instagram until after the show is over. Holding your phone up and watching through its monitor is so disrespectful to the artist (and to the people around you). It’s also just plain LAME. Why pay for a ticket to see someone perform if you’re going to spend the whole night focused on something else? You might as well just watch YouTube videos instead if you don’t really care about the live experience.
✚ And speaking of photos… Most venues allow non-professional cameras with fixed lenses these days. I use an ultra-compact Leica D-Lux 5 at concerts. It does really well in low light, I can hang it around my neck, and it’s non-intrusive. I leave the settings on auto, and I’m very quick about my shooting. Up, focus, snap, down, off…and I never use the flash. Again, think about the artist’s perspective! When you’re up in front there are a lot of opportunities to make direct eye (and hand) contact, and those can be really special moments. The more an artist is engaged with the audience and can sense positive reaction, the better a show they’re going to put on. They don’t want to look down into a sea of faces covered by cameras and iPhones, believe me.
King Volcano / Kingdom’s Coming / Double Dare / In the Flat Field / God in an Alcove / Boys / Silent Hedges / Kick in the Eye / Adrenalin / Three Shadows Pt 2 / Who Killed Mr. Moonlight / All We Ever Wanted Was Everything / Bela Lugosi’s Dead / The Passion of Lovers / She’s in Parties / Stigmata Martyr / Dark Entries / Severance / Burning From the Inside / Telegram Sam / Ziggy Stardust
This looks eerily similar to an exorcism.
I guess I wouldn’t know — I don’t get much exorcise.
OK, I have been to concerts with you, and you have NO BUSINESS coming out with such great photos. Every time! I used to try (with an iPhone, so that’s probably half the problem), but I’ve pretty much given up. These are all so nice—you have to give yourself more credit for your photography!
(also I think your concert tips are really good and also we need to get coffee soon kthanxbye)
In the very early 80’s I worked as a very young dishwasher at a seaside restaurant… There was a college girl who liked me. not like that, but liked me as her younger brother and music bonding… I was into the Clash and Adam Ant… she called me up out of the blue from her college break and asked if I wanted to to go see Bauhaus on South Street. at Ripley’s. After listening to the story of an asshole boyfriend on the drive in who wouldn’t go… we arrived. Truth be told, I wasn’t fully educated on Bauhaus at this point, but heard a few songs on passed on mix tapes. The funny thing is somehow my parents let me go… I think it was a 21+ club and I forget how I got in.. but… Ripley’s Music Hall became Tower Records, and now a Walgreens, it is truly a spot that Philly misses. The place fit maybe 500 people, and it was my first real experience with music and people who love music. Needless to say, that one night effected my personal sense of fashion, music and idea, for lack of a better word, what was cool. BTW I was 13 and she was 20.
So glad you had a great time even if the sound system was crap at Webster Hall.
That is amazing, Patrick!! And really, if you’re going to let anyone define “cool,” it should probably be Bauhaus (or even just David J). Everything they did/do visually is in perfect keeping with their sound and overall aesthetic, from each member’s personal style and stage persona to their album/single covers. Everything is perfect. And did they ever record a bad song? If they did, I don’t know what it is.
Two days out, I’m not even thinking about the sound at Webster Hall. I just feel so lucky that I get to go to all these shows, and that music is such a big part of my life.
Holy CRAP you TOOK THOSE? From the depths of a huge, jostling crowd?? I bet if you emailed them to him or something, you’d get a response. They are super flattering, as opposed to the blurry shots I always snap at shows right when the singer has his mouth open making a squinty derp face.
Well, not exactly from the depths of the crowd since I was all the way up in front! But thank you.
Sadly I do not have Peter Murphy’s email address, hahahaha. That’s probably for the best.
OK, a) OMG YOU SAW BAUHAUS I AM SO JEALOUS, b) I am totally impressed that you are still dedicated enough to do what it takes to get up front. I have gotten soft in my ‘old’ age and generally get seats and/or spend the first 20 minutes figuring out where i can stand around the backish and see something (I am short, so I’ll take… something). The only time I’ve stood in line to go to a concert recently was to see Prince, but that was fucking Prince and you stand in line.
Yes, I absolutely agree with all of your tips! Also: great photo’s!
I wholeheartedly agree with all of your tips. Especially the “stay in your spot and don’t move,” and especially x1000 the one about people who video concerts on their phones…. rarrggghh!! that raises my blood pressure just thinking about it.
Damn! Nice shots of Peter! He is my fav. Those are frame worthy.
Killer Photos….just saw him in Tampa and got to speak with him after the show. He was so sweet and signed a bunch of my Bauhaus/Dalis Car albums. I agree 1998 was the tops in Chicago for me…opening with Double Dare – Just Peter’s big eye on two massive B&W monitors on either side of the stage starting out with just the “Ping”, “Ping” loved it!
I think the only thing that could have made the 1998 tour better would have been Peter singing “Bela” while suspended upside-down like he did at Coachella in 2005. I can’t really imagine the level of fitness you’d need to achieve to be able to do something like that without passing out or throwing up, much still be able to sing like that!
I didn’t stay for the afterparty/meet & greet on Tuesday, and I regret it a bit. The venue was SO disorganized and the atmosphere after the show was very strained — I think it’s because it’s New York, and there were so many industry people and so on. I’m so shy in that kind of situation, anyway! Ah well, next time. Everyone I know who’s met him has said the same thing, that he’s very sweet and accommodating with fans. That’s nice.
This is my first comment on your blog and in my mind long over due! I love your blog, writing style and taste. I felt the need to comment because music is also a huge part of my life and I’ve been going to shows since I was 13 and the experience of each concert will never be forgotten.
I wanted to say that we have the exact same concert tips. I follow this same lists for every show I go to and agree that nothing beats GA – I’ve not gone to some concerts if they are in a seated venue. Thankfully most of the shows I go to are in the Boston/Portland ME location and don’t require the hours in line wait usually just 1/2 hour.
I also find the camera thing so rude. Just last night at The Breeders concert someone pulled out a full on DSLR (not sure how he got that in without being caught!) – but oddly enough we were never patted down. Halfway through he finally got “spoken” to, but just disrespectful.
Anyway – thanks for sharing your ideas and pictures!
It’s been my experience that you can sneak just about anything into a venue if you place a feminine hygiene product on top of it. My favorite is an overnight pad. Security opens the bag, sees the plastic wrapper and waves you on.
HAHAHAHAHAH. Excellent. I don’t really have anything to sneak in these days since the venues allow cameras, but your advice is noted. 😉
I can remember so many nerve racking instances of going to a gig and hoping that my hidden camera wouldn’t be found!
Great tips. I have to say though, I am personally over the days of trying to get to the front. Gig-wise, there is nothing worse for me than bad sound. Unfortunately, one of the worst places for sound is at the front. I find I always gravitate to just in front of the sound desk, where are you going to get the optimum audio quality that the venue has to offer. Each to their own though.
And when it comes to GA or seated, GA wins hands down for me. And I find it virtually impossible to stand still at a gig, I’m always amazed that people can just stand there and not move a muscle. I always end up dancing like a fool, but I really couldn’t care less what I look like 🙂
Yeah, you and my husband can stand in back my the sound desk. 😉 I’m one of those super-obsessive fangirl types, and I HAVE to be feeling the sweat and seeing the pores and touching the hands. And eye contact. Maybe it sounds creepy, but I really love having that feeling of a mutual connection — no matter how brief.
Totally not creepy. But that’s coming from someone who touched Lux Interior’s thigh from the front row, sooo…
As a long-haired teenager who listened to rock and metal bands like Rush, Queensryche (whose 1986 album Rage For Order I would recommend to any new wave/goth fan), and Iron Maiden, discovering Peter Murphy’s Deep album in 1989 was my introduction to post-punk and goth music. Dug the music instantly and thought he sounded like a darker Neil Diamond 🙂
Check out Scott Walker, who probably influenced everyone from Peter Murphy to David Bowie to Nick Cave. His early records have a 60’s pop sound with a slight bit of weirdness and the later albums become increasingly twisted and bizarre.
I like Scott Walker, but I’ve always felt more of a connection between him and Morrissey than the three guys you mentioned. I totally feel you on the Neil Diamond/Peter Murphy thing, though — and I do dig Neil Diamond. 😉
I love Webster Hall and I love your concert tips! Totally reasonable. The last few shows I’ve been to, I’ve bought tickets for actual seats and…ugh. I saw Muse at Madison Square Garden and it took my section FIVE SONGS to start standing up. It was painful. I miss GA spots.
I saw Amanda Palmer at Webster Hall a few years ago and got some pretty decent shots. It helped that I was right on the stage. I snapped a ton of pics, but I kept my camera very low so I wasn’t blocking anyone. Good times.
one, you take really awesome concert photos.
two, you said/wrote “on line” and immediately remembered our conversation! ha!
three, these tips – particularly “don’t watch the show through your iPhone” – should be required reading for every concert goer.
Haha! It’s so true, though — if you want to know if someone is from New York, check if they say “on line” or “in line.” It’s a 100% foolproof test! 😉
Favourite thing to do, but I’m never up front, I’m always too busy swilling Guinness beforehand, I like it at the sound desk best I think, can’t be dealing with all that jostling coz Irish boys go nuts at gigs. The iPhone thing is terrible, plus all the talking, which I suppose doesn’t happen at the front. I’d like two sides, one for tall people and one for small, ha.
omg this looks amazing. i’m seriously jealous. i need to get more on the ball about paying attention to what bands are coming to town and stop waiting until everything’s sold out to try to buy tickets. ha. also, i’m very sad right now that i have to go to work this afternoon as i’m feeling very motivated to spend this dreary day on my couch watching “the hunger”.
I saw Bauhaus opening for NIN in 2006. I loved and hated that concert. Loved it because it was a religious experience for me seeing Bauhaus live, I felt 10 feet tall. Hated because 99% of the audience was there for NIN and gave zero respect to the “lame opening band with that old dude singing” (unfortunate direct quote). I’m seeing Peter Murphy in July at a teensy venue in Boise. Guaranteed, every single person in the place is there for one reason and one reason only – devotion/love/respect/utter joygasm for Peter. I can barely wait til July!
I have tickets for a festival thingie in October that Neutral Milk Hotel is putting together for their first tour in 15 years, and NIN is playing. So afraid this is going to happen. >_<
Oh yay! Not only do I get to see some nice shots of PM ( so jealous!) I found the reference to how to get nicely browned tofu i I had read recently. I was sitting at work trying to remember where I’d seen it mentioned lately. Thank you thank you!
Your photos are fantastic! I haven’t been to a show in years, mostly because I’m old. (Do they even still call them shows? Haha.) Anyway, I can’t even imagine how bad/annoying the phone situation is at concerts. Someone I follow on twitter recently tweeted a pic of some concert they’d been to and wrote “this was my view,” and all you could see was a sea of iphones in front of her. Everyone had their arms raised blocking her view. Why do people do that? So lame.
Hahaha, I hope they’re still called “shows,” because that’s what I call them! Whenever I say “concert” it sounds so formal, like I need to wear a dress or something.
Ah! You got the setlist! (?)
Yes! Like I said, I take my concert-going seriously. 😉
Ha! I got mine from the stone roses recently! Can you imagine? The happiness was beyond words…
I understand the love for Peter Murphy!! he was a crush so many years ago… I swoon at the thought.
is it just me or did you not post pics or reviews of the morrissey concerts? i saw you there (yes, right upfront) and i would love to see your pics/hear your thoughts (since i’m slightly obsessed as well). of course, morrissey can do no wrong.
No, I didn’t! I took photos at all of them, though, so maybe I’ll do a recap post at some point. 🙂
Do you mean you saw me at an actual Morrissey concert? Which one? Was I smiling a lot? 😀
yes! actual you with an actual smile! you somehow ended up near me although i saw you arrive way after me. slick move anna 😉
it was his second concert at terminal 5 and he was glorious 🙂
Hmmm, maybe you saw someone else who looked like me? I waited before doors opened for 2+ hours for both Terminal 5 shows. No “slick moves” were pulled whatsoever. I don’t do that. Once I’m in, I walk up as far as I can go just like everyone else. No funny business.
ah! there were no negative implications and i’m sorry if it came across that way. your tips are good and i know that you put your time in. no funny business.
i got there about 3 hours early and, once inside and upfront, i befriended a couple of large gentlemen. morrissey fans are like no other and a girl needs protection against the pushers and shovers. i’m not an expert about these things and it could be that i’m just a wimp but my biggest tip is to find a couple of large men and position myself between them: instant barricade
I saw Peter in ’11, here in Jax Beach at a tiny venue. I’d never seen him live before (though I dreamed about it ever since I was a teenager in Japan), and I managed to get a spot right in front of the stage. I’ve never been so entranced in my life! Like, my eyes were big as saucers, and I had my hands clasped under my chin nearly the entire time. I swear, we had a connection. 😉