Murphy Casts His Spell

Peter Murphy, in concert at the Moore Theatre last night.

Peter Murphy ain't just for Goths anymore.

He's also for new wavers, punks, fetish-wear-garbed club hoppers and other refugees of the early '80s, all of whom joined just plain folks for Murphy's concert at the Moore last night.

Since his days with Bauhaus, best known for "Bela Lugosi's Dead" (in 1983, the other three members became Love and Rockets), Murphy has melded the old Goth grind with danceable pop and more esoteric Turkish and Southeast Asian styles. Even the bounciest examples of this sound, such as "All Night Long" and "Keep Me From Harm," put the crowd into a trance. During the new single "The Sweetest Drop," Murphy seemed hypnotized himself, staring fixedly into a spotlight for several minutes.

Surprisingly, Murphy proved himself a captivating dancer. He executed clean, angular moves, perfectly controlled and studded with Indian references. During one particularly lengthy sequence, in which Murphy turned his back to the audience and gesticulated like an eight-armed god, not a head in the house moved nor an eye blinked.

Even more surprisingly, Murphy revealed that he has a sense of humor. "Thank you, New York!" he shouted shortly into the set, and teased the audience to the point of violence during a raging version of his 1986 single "Final Solution."

The music suddenly stopped for Murphy to do a shadow dance with his hands in a single bar of light. The audience catcalled cluelessly until Murphy stopped and strode to the front of the stage.

"This is the part where the audience gets all bored and tense," he said. "They always yell out things like `Bela Lugosi's Dead'! " Murphy and the audience traded zingers until he turned to the corner and said, "We're going to have to play very independent, college-credibility songs."

Then he did a perfectly straight version of Led Zeppelin's "Rock 'n' Roll." Then the end of "Solution." Then the exit. He encored twice with "Cuts You Up" and "His Circle and Hers Meet," and the audience was just putty inside his cape.