Peter Murphy - 06/23/1992

Peter Murphy 1992

This was my first show back at a big, big venue since those early Depeche Mode and Erasure shows and it helped to seal the deal in my mind that concerts and sports arenas should not mix. Peter Murphy was riding high on the nostalgia for Bauhaus and on one hit single "Cuts You Up" from an otherwise un-noteworthy album Deep. Sure, everyone you knew had a copy of Deep, but the only song anyone ever played at a club was the lead single and really, the whole thing was exciting because most people in the scene hadn't been hip to Bauhaus in the 80s so seeing Peter Murphy solo was their best chance to connect to that history. And this was actually a tour for his NEXT album, "Holy Smoke" which again followed the format of having one decent single and a memorable cover photograph and not much more.

This was certainly one of the most underwhelming shows I went to during this era, and it wasn't all due to the venue. Though the cavernous echo of the USF Sundome didn't make anything sound good, the fact that the dome was not even sold out on the floor, much less any of the seats, made the whole thing seem like an overblown spectacle. It's much better to sell out a smaller venue than it is to pack in 1/8th the capacity of a much larger one.

Peter Murphy was a stadium sized personality with a large theater sized draw. He seemed obviously pissed that he was playing to a nearly empty sports arena where all of the sound bounced around the bleachers and off of the dome roof to make a giant ball of mud. At one point, he actually stopped in between songs and said "Come on people, I'm busting my ass up here!" because we were apparently not showing enough appreciation for his efforts. Frankly, applause was pretty unwarranted. The band was as uncreative and dry as could be and Murphy himself was a pretty uninspired frontman. Add all of that to the fact that the show looked like a bust and the whole atmosphere was just lousy.

I really lost interest in Peter Murphy after this. Not that I was a huge fan to begin with. Seeing someone ache for attention and recognition was distracting and it felt so counter to all of the reasons that small, indie shows were so attractive. Clearly there are a lot of bands that play small clubs to 50 people who have the same undeserved sense of entitlement and who are motivated to perform by the same selfish need for approval. But when I saw a guy up on a huge stage begging for the scant audience in a giant arena to throw him a bone, it really drove home for me the fact that I want to have genuine experiences with bands, and I'm not so interested in just being part of the spectacle.