Bauhaus / Nov. 16, 2005 / Toronto (Kool Haus)

With an almost obligatory dress code of black in effect and the entire venue immersed in near darkness, the reunited Bauhaus introduced its 19-song set with a series of brooding noises and effects, as

Although they have few rivals when it comes to goth music, Bauhaus seemed to have missed the boat in the late '90s when it came time to jump on, and stay on, the reunion bandwagon like so many other bands. A series of shows in 1998 resulted in a live album and DVD, but not since 1983's "Burning From the Inside" has the influential British quartet released a new studio album.

Reports indicate that the group will return next year with a new offering, but for the time being fans will have to make do with the ongoing Near the Atmosphere jaunt, which hit Toronto on Nov. 16. Luckily, as evidenced by the group's 100-minute show in front of a near-capacity crowd, the songs sound as fresh, appealing and relevant today as they did more than 20 years ago.

With an almost obligatory dress code of black in effect and the entire venue immersed in near darkness, Bauhaus introduced its 19-song set with a series of brooding noises and effects, as if someone had sampled a loop of a sonic boom.

Finally onstage, guitarist Daniel Ash started into "Burning From the Inside," while the rhythm section of drummer Kevin Haskins and bassist David J. propelled the mid-tempo quasi-militaristic tune along. The song set the mood for the evening, as Bauhaus continued to throw out one nugget after another with almost criminal precision. "In The Flat Field" had Ash pacing the stage, while "God in an Alcove" showed the first traces of Peter Murphy's booming pipes.

Throughout the night, one got the sense that Bauhaus could have done these songs asleep with the same stellar results. Showmanship from Murphy was at a minimum, with no between-song banter and even less interaction with the crowd. Instead, the music did all the talking, with an early highlight being the bouncy, saxophone-saturated "In Fear of Fear" and the short, choppy riffs dominating "Swing of Heartache," as Ash ran his pick up the neck of his ebony axe. The lighting effects, whether it was white strobe flashes or a series of golden beams shooting up from the stage, only heightened the gravitas.

Bauhaus also proved just how ahead of its time it was, as several songs could easily have been mistaken for more contemporary rockers (in particular, "Kick in the Eye," which resembled Franz Ferdinand's dance-y approach). Just as solid was "Silent Hedges," with Ash's winding guitar lines snaking around Haskins' steady kick drum. Only during "Hollow Hills" and "The Passion of Lovers" did the set seem to stagnate.

Coming around the homestretch, Bauhaus dove into "Rosegarden Full of Sores" with Ash down on his knees and wringing each note out. "Stigmata Martyr" and "Dark Entries" were also highlights, the latter closing the main set as Murphy bowed and departed.

And while a cover of Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" stayed truer to the original than what the Thin White Duke might muster nowadays, it was Bauhaus' signature tune, "Bela Lugosi's Dead," which capped off the four-song encore. If the new material is half as good, it will have been worth the wait.

Here is Bauhaus' set list:

"Burning From the Inside"
"In the Flat Field"
"God in an Alcove"
"In Fear of Fear"
"Terror Couple Kill Colonel"
"Swing the Heartache"
"She's in Parties"
"The Passion of Lovers"
"Silent Hedges"
"Kick in the Eye"
"Hollow Hills"
"Rosegarden Funeral of Sores"
"Stigmata Martyr"
"Hair of the Dog"
"Dark Entries"
"Slice of Life"
"Telegram Sam"
"Ziggy Stardust"
"Bela Lugosi's Dead"