To call Peter Murphy’s Greek Theatre concert a tribute to David Bowie would be narrow-minded. Taking the full picture into account, it would be more accurate to say that Peter Murphy’s whole career has been a Bowie tribute.
But, in truth, Murphy is doing more interesting things with the Bowie style than Bowie himself has in years, and the British singer has carved out his own niche with his Bowie-isms (plus a heavy dose of Iggy-isms). As the front man of the influential Bauhaus a decade ago, he virtually defined modern Gothic rock. And in his solo career he’s developed a vampire harlequin persona that was in full, um, flower at the Greek on Friday.
At some points Murphy prowled the stage with exaggerated dramatics, as if testing for the lead in “Interview With the Vampire.” At other times he danced joylessly, a la Mike Meyers’ art-snob of “Sprockets” fame on “Saturday Night Live.” The songs, in kind, veered between darkly seductive and oppressively pretentious--"This is about rapture, man,” Murphy pronounced solemnly at one particularly laborious moment.
What kept the show from teetering over the top was the strong playing of Murphy’s four-piece band. The slippery Euro-funk, focused by the nimble, viscous bass of Eddie Branch, ensured that even if Murphy didn’t appear to be having any fun, at least his fans could.