Now playing:

FM to Web: Peter Murphy by Lettie

Soon Peter Murphy returns with new album and Lettie writes today (for the column, of course...) both for it and the feeling of sharing the stage with a living legend...
Read times

On my birthday on November 9, 2009 I was fortunate to get two great gifts. The first was to enjoy the 'hero' of my teenage years at
Gagarin Live Stage, decades after his first live in our country (1983) with the unique Bauhaus... As for the second was to watch the presence of Lettie that evening.

Soon Peter Murphy returns with new album and Lettie writes today (for the column, of course...) both for it and the feeling of sharing the stage with a living legend...

Supporting Peter Murphy on the 'Secret Covers' Tour (Europe) 2009
and 'Dirty Dirt' Tour (UK) 2010

My journey with Peter Murphy and the band in October and November 2009 (Secret Cover Tour) on his bus around Europe on twenty seven dates was one I will never forget.

I watched Peter every single night, jaw dropping and brilliant.  I couldn't take my eyes off him.  The songs he performed, different to those he would perform in the UK on the 'Dirty Dirt Tour', in August 2010, were mesmerising.  'She's In Parties' 'A Strange Kind of Love'  'Marlene Dietrich's Favorite Poem' and 'Too Much 21st Century' became my favourites. I even bought another melodica for him in Warsaw so he could blow us away once more with this intoxicating solo that charmed me like a snake, cause he kept giving them away for 'She's in Parties'. 

You just can't stop moving to the hypnotic beat and bass.  During this tour he also performed one of my favourite Roxy Music songs 'In Every Dream Home A Heartache' on a Virus, solo.  This was so haunting it made my hairs stand on end.  The band only came in at the crescendo final.

The darkness and foreboding I felt when he performed on stage and the talks we had of religion and dance of the east and west collision, his views on life and the world, drew me in.  We spoke of the whirling dervishes, the Catholic church, music, and many other things besides.

I initially met Peter in America where he recorded his latest album with my writing partner, David Baron but my first memory of him was in a very famous advert in the 80s for Maxwell tapes.  His sharp jaw line and cool glacial stare from a huge black leather chair to 'Night on Bare Mountain' by Mussorgsky was cathartic.  The album 'NINTH' is due out this year (2011).  It is worth the wait.  'Uneven and Brittle' which would always end the shows before the encores, is one of my favourites on the new album part written with Mark Gemini Thwaite, one of the guitarists for Peter on this tour and formerly of the Mission, and 'Prince and Old Lady' a gem of a song, hooky and brilliant. Nick Lucero the drummer who would warm up at least one or two hours before every show knocking whatever he could find, usually a practice pad drum, would beat his heart out. The band also included Jeff Schwartoff on bass and John Andrews on guitars.

I travelled on the bus, did a half hour performance, sold merchandise and just watched; I loved every minute of it.  The bus is a completely different world.  It's like a capsule. It is a strange kind of reality and was so far away from my daily routine in London, that my landing after the tour was hard to say the least because I had not had any sense of time or day.  Without a doubt my feelings towards Peter were of admiration and disbelief. I also kept my distance to some extent as the energy and preparation to give those kind of shows that almost drew blood, take a lot out of a performer.  I felt in awe and then the next day when I saw Peter, he would make me laugh, say I was silly and immediately I would feel at ease again. The beauty of his movements, sexy and dangerous made me want to move myself but I am to some extent trapped by my equipment. I learned a lot from just watching.

Some nights he would talk, other nights he would encore for hours.  Every night was different.  For me, Peter is one of the best performers I have ever seen.  His voice totally incomparable to any other male living artist I have heard.  He is not a fake either, he is truly genuine. There is nothing else.  He lives as he does on stage.  He has a presence, he is an original and his clear blue eyes penetrate you and make you want to love him.

I toured with him again in the UK for the 'Dirty Dirt Tour' and there I heard such beautiful songs as 'All We Ever Wanted' an early Bauhaus song that seems so timely as the recession hits us harshly and a winter of discontent continues on here in the UK.  I love the lines 'Flash of youth shoot out of darkness, Factory town'. That song hit my bones especially in Glasgow where I used to live. He performed 'Dark Entries' on the UK tour and I have never felt so physically affected by a song as I was by this.  Peter would take the guitar (sometimes mine which worried me greatly as it belongs to a friend!) and go into a trance like dirge of incredible power that I can't really relate it to anything I have seen before. I thought he would smash it up, go completely wild, and get caught up in the moment that felt completely out of control but wasn't.  It is a savage, brutal and almost warlike build up of a song.  Heavy, loud, angry I don't know but it kicked a massive punch.  The gigs in the UK, Camden and Glasgow in particular this year, were incredible.  It was a harder show than the European ones.

Touring with Peter was without doubt the best thing that could have happened to me.  He picked me up when I need to be picked up and enabled me to travel with music which I never thought possible.  My journey with Peter began backwards and now I listen to all the Bauhaus albums that had largely escaped me when I was younger, for reasons I still can't understand. I met many of his fans and their devotion is something, again, I just do not see with many artists these days.  These days where things go so fast, where today is already yesterday and the interest in an artist goes so very quickly, and how many truly unique original artists are there?  Because the mystery has already gone, and anything new gets old before it's had time to breathe in the underground.  The times we live in do not create a very easy environment for alternative artists to be truly interesting and original.  Thank goodness, then, for those we do have, like Peter Murphy.  For me, their music is timeless, and they never get old.  They will be continually dug up because there is nothing as good to replace it.  The music is timeless.

My meeting, therefore, in 2008, was fortunate.  He is, and will always be, a mentor as well as friend to me and I look up to him, as something quite untouchable but still very much human. He is extraordinary.  I am lucky.

Peter's album 'Ninth' out in 2011

New album by Lettie will be out in 2011