Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Peter Murphy, Ours and Michael Shapiro @ the Knitting Factory (8/12/12)

I saw Peter Murphy down in L.A. last December, and it was one of the greatest shows I've ever seen.  Between the three solid acts (Murphy, She Wants Revenge and an up-and-coming New York band called Hussle Club) and the stellar between-set mix (Iggy, X, Tones on Tail, etc), I got almost four hours of awesome music.  Murphy himself was downright magnificent: he caressed the ballads, scorched the rockers, tore the strings out of his guitar on "Stigmata Martyr," twirled, glided, playfully teased the audience, invited a teenage fan onstage and sang a tune with his arm around the blushing lad's shoulder.

So when I saw that he'd be playing Boise, it was a foregone conclusion.  I would go see him, period.

Unfortunately, not many others felt the same way.  Attendance was disgustly dismal for an artist and performer of this caliber.  Especially disappointing was the fact that I saw almost none of the local Goths in the meager crowd.  I've got love in my heart for the Goth community here in town, but it made me sick that almost no one besides DJ Bones bothered to come out for the man who wrote "Bela Lugosi's Dead."

First up was Michael Shapiro, the frontman from the San Francisco band Reckless in Vegas.  He got the evening off to a good start with plenty of friendly, self-deprecating stage banter and some catchy, smartly crafted tunes.  The songs would've sounded more complete with a full band (duh), but they held up fine with only Shapiro's guitar and rich, dramatic baritione for support.  A highlight of his set were a pair of songs written soon after his breakup with his fiancee four months ago.  One honored their love while the other flipped her the bird.  The latter seemed to go over just a little better with the crowd.

The New York City band Ours took the stage after Michael Shapiro.  With their all-black attire, chiming riffs, vrooming bass, mournful keyboard parts, danceable beat and tortured lyrics, this group could've sprung fully formed from Peter Murphy's head.  However, the solid craftsmanship of their songs enabled them to bear the weight of their audible influences (Bauhaus, Siouxie and the Banshees, the Cult, etc.).  As did their indomitable drummer, sharp guitar solos and charismatic frontman.

After Ours came Peter Murphy, whose set disappointed me like no other set has so far this year.  It wasn't flat-out awful, but it did suffer from some serious detractors.  Chief among them was that Murphy was clearly sick: he kept chugging water and blowing his nose between songs, and a very audible frog in his throat crippled his singing.  Occasional feedback from his mic and a couple of drunken hecklers didn't help matters either.  Still, the three backup musicians were definitely on their game, and Murphy retained enough of his stunning voice to nail a couple of ballads and work through the rockers that dominated his set.  Also, aside from those drunken dickheads, the modest audience gave the man a suitably warm reception.  Like I said: not bad, but severely disappointing.

The most heartbreaking moment of the night came after Murphy left the stage.  The crowd clapped and hollered and waited for an encore that clearly wouldn't come.  That didn't surprise me, given the sub-par condition of Murphy's voice, but it made me feel bad for everyone else.  Especially considering that I got two encores down in L.A..

My night did have a nice, restorative coda, however.  I stopped by Grainey's Basement after the Knitting Factory show and caught part of the set by the awesomely-named AlcoJuana, a punk/ska trio from WA.  These dudes were just straight-up raucous, trashy fun.  I stood outside the concert bunker and watched the Rainier-fueled crowd playfully mosh and stomp around.  Like Calvin and Hobbes said, "There's treasure everywhere!"

You can find info on these various acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.

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