The greatest pop star Arklow will ever produce
I’m trying to imagine what would the ideal venue for a Roisin Murphy show. A giant spaceship hovering over a city of skyscrapers with its landing lights turned into glitterballs? A psychedelic submarine designed by Philip Treacy vibrating its way …
I’m trying to imagine what would the ideal venue for a Roisin Murphy show. A giant spaceship hovering over a city of skyscrapers with its landing lights turned into glitterballs? A psychedelic submarine designed by Philip Treacy vibrating its way along the bed of an ocean? A multi-storey building all tricked out with day-glo, sparkling fluffy marshmallows, like a giant Coconut Cream? Certainly, she shouldn’t be playing kips like Dublin’s Olympia.
But beggars can’t be choosers and so we skipped along to Dame Street we go for the first pantomine of the season. It’s a show which starts with the star coming onstage dressed in an outfit resembling a goth Big Bird from Sesame Street (complete with a hat which looked a bit like a mushroom cap) and ends two hours later with that same star, now sporting a padded plaid reindeer on her shoulders, wrestling with her backing dancers who are wearing virginal white puffball skirts. Twink will have a lot to compete with this year.
Inbetween these two starling book-ends, Murphy, formerly of Arklow, Co Wicklow, puts on the kind of show which makes you howl with disbelief at the injustice of it all. Just why isn’t Roisin Murphy the biggest pop star on the planet? The songs, the style, the pizzazz, the spectacle – every single aspect of this breath-taking, audacious show hits the mark. Tracks from her last album, “Overpowered”, dazzle in the way only songs given a supersized electronic rub-a-dub-dub can. Older tracks are given a giant kick in the disco trousers and pulled back into the show’s orbit. An old Moloko nugget is greeted by the audience like an old friend returned from out foreign. And that slinky cover version of Bryan Ferry’s “Slave to Love” which closes the show with a bang, a crash and a wallop sends us home dreaming.
Throughout it all, throughout the costume changes which come with every song, Murphy shines. In an era when pop has become about watching a bunch of kids doing karaoke on the TV in front of a coven of preening witches and bitches who think they’re all Solomons, Murphy is a throwback to a completely different era. She knows that pop is a Venn diagram combining art, fashion and music. Murphy doesn’t really need the outlandish dresses and cloaks or the Clockwork Orange attire of her band and stage-hands to make an impact. The way she rolls the clothes rail onto the stage at the end and throws the gowns around shows she knows that. But she knows that just as hip-hop is supposed to be about the four elements, pop too needs to show its connections to and from what has influenced and inspired it.
She realises too that pop is supposed to be about escapism, hedonism and, I suppose, a bit of knowing narcissism too. Last night’s show, then, was about dropping out of this world for two hours and getting wrapped up in a totally intoxicating alternative universe where the most amazing soundtrack was flowing like lava from the speakers. If only that could happen every Monday night….
She plays Dolan’s in Limerick tonight and The Savoy in Cork tomorrow and tickets are still on sale for both shows. If you want to have the time of your life, go along and prepare to be thrilled.
For those who can’t get to either show, check out her two hour show at the Forest National in Brussels from two weeks ago which is now streaming in full here.
This tune sounded amazing last night