Peter Murphy live at Yoshi's Jazz Club SF

The first time I saw Peter Murphy was at the Mesa Amphitheatre in Mesa, AZ in 1990 for his “Deep” tour.  He looked like a blonde vampire ready to descend onto any one of the 4000 black-clad teenagers wearing tons of eyeliner swaying to “Cuts You Up”- and any of us would have gladly offered our necks to this Goth deity. But times change: we let our black hair grow out and we get jobs, have babies, and buy houses.  Flash to 22 years later and a Peter Murphy show at Yoshi’s, one of the nicest venues in San Francisco, where this time instead of swaying, we’d be sitting in our seats having sushi and fancy cocktails while watching the Godfather of Goth.

When the lights went out, Murphy emerged in a fur-lined leather jacket and white shirt and tight dress pants.  He looked the love child of Jack Skellington and Nick Cave and moved around the stage like Jagger.  His voice?  Well, it was as strong and beautiful as ever, like a razor blade wrapped in fine silk-a gorgeous growl with a bite.  What was most different this time around was how funny he was, even describing his show as “goth standup.”

In between funny stories about Bauhaus and U2, he sang some beautiful songs, starting with NIN’s “Hurt.”  As he moved back on forth on stage, he touched the audience’s outstretched hands, even going so far as to put his hand on their foreheads like a Goth Jesus.  He sang a nice mix of new and old tunes and interacted with the crowd throughout the entire evening.  Highlights include a “Strange Kind of Love/Bela Legosi’s Dead” mash-up and “I Spit Roses,” where he literally took a bite of a bouquet of the flower and spit the petals out.  He ended with Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust,” and for a minute I was that black-clad teen back in Arizona star-worshipping a gothic alien.

Yoshi’s is one of the very best venues in town!  I had seen Jazz and Broadway types perform there, so it was a real treat to see a rock show. Both of their locations have the nicest staff and really good Japanese food and great cocktails (though the San Francisco location needs to add Oakland’s salted-caramel martini!). The sound system is incredible and the intimate setting makes for an up close and personal experience without having to fight your way to the stage.

Setlist:

Hurt
Velocity Bird
Memory Go
Silent Hedges (this was amazing!)
Strange Kind of Love/Bela Legosi
I Spit Roses
Prince and Old Lady
Cuts You Up
Subway
Stigmata
Uneven and Brittle
Ziggy Stardust

review by Jason Galloway, librarian and blogger (guidosdaddy.com – coming soon!)