Before this year, David J, bassist for the seminal goth band Bauhaus and the unlikely radio success story Love and Rockets, wasn't really doing much in the way of playing live. He wrote, directed and scored a play on Edie Sedgwick's life. He spun obligatory DJ sets at nightclubs. He tromped around with a reunited Bauhaus, he played Coachella with Love and Rockets. He wrote screenplays for movies. But his solo material, highly dramatic and theatrical, had mostly been confined to the studio.
Leave it up to a tribute band to woo the subject of its musical homage back onto the stage. Luv'n Rockets, the local outfit which covers Love and Rockets songs, opens for David J in Santa Rosa this weekend, the latest in a series of collaborative shows that have brought this supremely talented icon out of hibernation.
Almost more a theater piece than a concert, David J's sets—separated into "Bouquets," "Wreaths" and "Laurels"—conjure old Bauhaus material (he wrote "Bela Lugosi's Dead"), storytelling (Andy Warhol and the Factory), cover songs (Nick Cave, Allen Ginsberg) and newer solo tracks. The only thing he doesn't do is Love and Rockets songs, but with Luv'n Rockets opening, he doesn't need to.
Adding to the ambiance is David J's choice of instrumentation: a lone violin, an upright bass and a piano. That's it. With such spare accompaniment behind him, and in small glasses and a compact hat, it's tempting to expect a quiet, casual show. But has David J ever done anything quietly or casually? This is the guy who created such images as virginal brides filing past tombs strewn with dead flowers, and made them stick to the hearts of a million disaffected Reagan youths. Expect the unexpected when David J plays with Luv'n Rockets on Friday, April 24, at Chrome Lotus. 501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 9pm. $12. www.chromelotussr.com.