In U.S. Rocker’s September 1998 issue, we covered the reformation of classic 1980s “Batcave” band, Bauhaus. These Goth / Post-Punk pioneers—singer Peter Murphy, guitarist/saxophonist Daniel Ash, bassist David J and his brother, drummer Kevin Haskins—had been dormant, much like a slumbering vampire, for nearly fifteen years since their breakup in 1983.
Then, seemingly out of the blue, the band reactivated and appeared at one of my most favorite venues, lovely Nautica Stage in The Cleveland Flats, on the bank of the Cuyahoga River, on Saturday, August 29, 1998.
U.S. Rocker photographer Karen Novak attended the sold-out show and took the gorgeous photos posted below, now online for the very first time.
(USR ran out of money and space to print them in what would turn out to be our penultimate issue before ceasing publication at the end of October 1998.)
I’ve reprinted my review from 1998 to accompany the photos. I’ll acknowledge right now that I LOVE BAUHAUS! Back when I wrote this, I was a tad embarrassed as Bauhaus was not “cool” in the immediate Post-Grunge era.
But in the early 2000s, just a few short years later, the band would finally be acknowledged as the rock icons they are, setting off a wave of renewed stardom that persists to this day. Please enjoy Karen’s photos of this classic band—one of my all-time favorites.
August 29, 1998
I bought a lot of overpriced import cassettes back in the ’80s, methodically purchasing every band I read about in the highly Brit-damaged underground music magazines of that era. I was searching for my music, but I never found it in Depeche Mode, New Order, the Mission UK (barf), Sisters of Mercy (double barf), or any of the other fashion packages the “cool” mags recommended. That’s because the tastemakers of the time were, just as they are now, scared shitless by the bands who laid down the heavy rhythm and the heavy soul I require. No, they were more concerned with bashing the “macho, regressive” domestic musical environment, a tendency which persists (albeit well-cloaked since Nirvana) to this very day.
A lot of time has passed since then and, in hindsight’s unsympathetic glare, a lot of those Brit bands have been revealed to be exactly the drab, static, overly-processed CRAP that the press of the era was supposedly railing against. But even though I lost those import cassettes years ago, when I’m really broke I still wish I could get a refund on that shit. Or at least some new records.
One of the few British bands that the ’80s press hyped hard that I can’t quite bring myself to throw on the scrap heap is Bauhaus. Though I don’t pull out discs like Mask or The Sky’s Gone Out very often (Memory Lane can be one dull highway), I must give those four guys (guitarist Daniel Ash, bassist David J, drummer Kevin Haskins, and Peter Murphy on vocals) some credit because their band turned me onto an amazingly diverse range of music—from dub to hard rock to sound collage experiments. And I think it was this wide breadth of musical scope that elevates them above the rest of the horde.
Bauhaus has been routinely pigeonholed as a goth band since their demise in late 1983 and were often criticized as “pretentious/ but a lot of that can be blamed on Murphy’s ultra-corny lyrics. In reality, they were four enterprising art students who got lucky with the “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,, single and hustled to create some really catchy, eclectic tunes that, over the course of several albums, cracked open the dark side of early ’70s glam rock and exposed the beast’s stark, modernist innards. The other thing I respect about Bauhaus is that they never gave in to the trendy, turn-of-the-’80s electro-disco sound. Though they were never a heavy “rock” band per se (they never managed to make the frightening subject matter kick like the artistically superior Birthday Party did), Bauhaus stuck with the standard gtr/bass/drums/vox formula to the end.
I was excited when I heard Bauhaus was getting back together for a brief U.S. tour. At least the crowd would be entertaining, I thought — remembering the overweight, 40- something drama queens who stood on their chairs and screamed like girts at a Peter Murphy show I got dragged to back in the day. Actually, the crowd at Nautica was fairly sedate, though well-dressed. It was like going to the “Gravedigger’s Prom” or some shit. The band appeared at dusk, with Murphy’s image projected on a lV monitor that sat center stage — a very nice, budget-wise special effect.
Bauhaus played for a very short time and their set, predictably, mirrored their most recent greatest hits re-pack CD. That was all fine with me: I hate bands that overstay and the hits leaned heavily on their earliest (and best) material. We got to hear “Double Dare,” “In The Flat Field,” “Boys,” “In Fear of Fear” (with Ash manically ripping away on the sax), and “Terror Couple Kill Colonel.” Later tunes like the crazy, dubbed out “She’s in Parties” (one of my favorite songs of ALL time) came toward the end of the set. Murphy sang superbly—never missing a note—and the band chugged along just like on the old records. The P.A. was a bit muted, but outdoor venues are hard on bands that affect a brittle, unadorned sound.
Bauhaus reappeared at the end for an encore of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” and Bolan’s “Telegram Sam” only to duck out again before the final encore of “Bela.” I clapped an along the whole time like a big fucking dork.
A lot of my enthusiasm for the band was killed by a bad cold I came down with before the show, but I was impressed by Bauhaus’ elegance (all the guys are still skinny and looked great) and the simple presentation (they played the hits and then they left). The concert was neither embarrassing nor slapdash, nor was it a cultural watershed event for me. The fantasy factor of seeing Bauhaus live wore off long ago, but I had a great time and they reaffirmed their position in the pantheon of bands I like as pragmatic, inspired craftsmen who bucked the hype and crap that existed in their time and set their marks for what really matters: stimulating, well-written, diverse music.
Check out more of Karen Novak’s superb photography: