Roísín Murphy is like no other. Known as much for her sartorial flair as her music, possession of ticket for one of her shows is a thing of excitement and luckily I find myself in such a position on this February evening in Belfast.
In the Limelight 2 things are hotting up as the flamboyant and stylish crowd filtering in seeking a pre-show drink. Isodisco DJs are on hand supplying the music to get us prepared for the sonic offerings of Madam Murphy herself.
The crowd is a mix of funky headwear, big hair and glitz with people taking the chance to bring out their inner quirk in honour of a like minded performer, and when Roísín Murphy takes to the stage resplendent in what can only be described as a glitter mosaic covered welders mask, in a mustard coat with a vintage bag she doesn’t disappoint.
Kicking into ‘Let Me Know’ from her 2007 album ‘Overpowered‘ with a singing style which is instantly recognisable she encompasses so many textures and voices which perfectly compliment the funky piano and bass-line. With a brief interlude of ‘Dirty Monkey’ from the Moloko days and a quick coat removal to show off her striped outfit underneath we’re treated to ‘Dear Miami’ with its jarring lyrics and electropop beat.
A quick costume change into a red dress and head wear resembling a glow in the dark pretzel Murphy segues from ‘Tight Sweater’ into ‘In Sintesi’ from her 2014 Italian language E.P ‘Mi Senti’. A brave move for someone who confessed she ‘does not speak a word of Italian’ but you’d never know as it as she breathes and utters the lyrics in a sensual fashion with the understated music and constant beat providing the perfect backdrop.
As she changes outfits yet again she quips that she ‘keeps meaning to pack less’. Her baggage charges must be extortionate. As she sings my personal highlight from her 2015 Mercury Music prize nominated album ‘Hairless Toys’, the beautiful ‘Unputdownable‘ its like we’ve opened a beautiful music box with a fairy of electronica spinning around building the song into a frenzy.
The crowd goes wild when the opening bars of ‘Overpowered‘ are played, albeit on a banjo, and oddly it works adding another level to the song. The menacing groove of ‘Evil Eyes‘ disco laden funk is up next, and sees Murphy spinning around the stage in a little Bo Peep style dress with her face through a massive glittery circle. Boring it ain’t.
On ‘House of Glass‘ the combination of Murphy’s jazzy vocals, the synth and beat makes the song quite unsettling at first before blossoming into funk. Not one to settle for a radio friendly ballad, you have to respect the layers and textures that go into Roísín Murphy’s songs and their intrigue makes them slow burning growers.
On ‘Ancora Tu’, another offering from her foray into Italian, she takes Lucio Battisti’s song and makes it her own, her voice is full of emotion and simply divine. ‘Jealousy‘ ramps up the show, again with pure disco bassline and funk guitar, and the place turns into one big dance floor, with people throwing shapes all over the place in a 10 minute hazy danceathon.
The discordant ‘Exploitation‘ is introduced by Roísín who says songs are like children, and this is one of her favourites, joking that she is a bad mother as she has ‘favourite children too’. We are all sweaty glitter covered messes glad of the slight shift of pace until we are mercilessly teased with a snippet of ‘Sing it Back’, Molokos 1999 smash and biggest hit. We all go wild and Murphy tells us ‘you got what you wanted in the end’ and with that she leaves the stage to rapturous applause.
The band continue on and the house lights stay down so we are hopeful for a return. The band then leave the stage which prompts a loud chant of ‘Roísín, Roísín’ from her loyal followers, hoping for some more and again, she does not leave us wanting. Dressed in a black and gold fringed creation she purrs her way through ‘Exile‘ with its dreamy almost country sound before kicking into ‘Pure Pleasure Seeker‘, from Moloko’s 2000 album ‘Things to Make and Do’. We are all consumed by the cult of Roísín as we chant ‘Come make me whole body and soul’ and shimmy our way into oblivion.
Roísín Murphy is as always, a breath of fresh air in days of stagnant pop princesses with a catchy tune but nothing else. Here is an artist, visually and sonically, combining electropop stompers with experimental numbers and all while playing dress up and its fun, different and ostentatious. As she sings herself on ‘Gone Fishing‘ ‘theres no such thing as overkill’.