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12th May 2023

Live review: Róisín Murphy celebrates Albert Hall’s 10th anniversary

Róisín Murphy delivered an electric, two hour-long gig to celebrate Albert Hall’s 10th anniversary
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Live review: Róisín Murphy celebrates Albert Hall’s 10th anniversary
Róisín Murphy and her band. Photo: Jay Darcy @ The Mancunion

This year, Albert Hall is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a live music venue. To mark the occasion, the venue has put on a series of 10th anniversary shows, beginning with Mogwai back in January. A few weeks back, Peter Hook and the Light played the venue, but things are getting real this month, with Róisín Murphy having just played the venue and Osees set to play it next week.

To most people, Róisín Murphy is “the woman from Moloko“. But to the gays and cool people, she is a dazzling dance diva who continues to reinvent herself!

Róisín’s latest album, Róisín Machine, was released in 2020 to critical acclaim. Sadly, I did not manage to see the album’s corresponding tour in 2021 so I was delighted to attend this one-off gig, which saw Róisín sing songs from her incredible catalogue but also mark a new era (as I said, she continues to reinvent herself).

The show began with a superb set from Luke Unabomber, who many will recognise from Homoelectric. Luke played some groove-tastic instrumentals that got us in the mood for Róisín’s set.

The main set began with Róisín appearing on a screen at the back of the stage. Róisín sang ‘Simulation’, a tantalising track off Róisín Machine. The video was partially animated (simulation, indeed). It turned out that Róisín was backstage and the video onscreen was being recorded in real time. The camera became a focal point of the two-hour long set.

Before the gig began, a guy I was sat next to had told me he had previously seen Róisín at a festival, and even there, a setting where most artists wear a single outfit, she had numerous costume changes. Two hours gave Róisín plenty of time to show off her outlandish, fabulous fashion. Her first costume was a metallic turquoise gown, accompanied with a huge hat.

The next performance saw a live recording of Róisín and her band projected onscreen but the video had animated effects. The intention, perhaps, to create a space in between worlds. But after this, many songs were accompanied by animated moving images – as if we had been transported to a cartoon world.

Róisín’s intro was very brief – a mere thanks and welcome. This evening was all about the music – and she gave us two whole hours of it!

A short while later, she swapped her hat for a purple cloak, before singing ‘The Time is Now’, Moloko’s highest-charting UK hit. As I have said previously, singing a hit early on is a wise idea, for it quickly draws the audience in and gets them in the mood.

Róisín next sang ‘Overpowered’, which saw her swinging around a metallic silver blow-up person. Things just got weirder and weirder…

Róisín briefly left the stage before returning in the same skirt but a metallic purple top, black gloves, sunglasses, and a floppy black hat. She was like a little girl raiding her mother’s wardrobe in search of the perfect outfit – but they were all perfect.

The first song of the second set was her new single, ‘CouCool’. The visuals for this performance were like a tube sucking you in; it was hypnotic. Róisín later wore a big black piece of material around her head, like a tube-shaped headscarf, and sang my favourite song of hers, ‘Something More’. I really relate to the lyrics about always wanting more – the more you get, the more you want, and all that jazz…

During this song, Róisín went down into the audience, removed the ridiculous headpiece, and embraced the crowd, which increased the intimacy of the atmosphere. The song then morphed into ‘Let Me Know’, Murphy’s highest-peaking solo single.

For the third set, Róisín wore the same purple top and black gloves with shiny white trousers, which were completely open at the sides; there were slits right up to the top of her thigh and multiple cuts right the way up. Previously she had just been camp; now she was risqué.

During ‘Incapable’, she put on a black hat and showed off her moves, which really got the crowd going. This was a really long performance; it was like a never-ending dream – except it did end (eventually).

Róisín then added a pink feathered headpiece with a sheer bow at the back that draped down to her kneecaps. It was like a world tour of camp fashion.
For the next set, she wore a metallic silver leotard wth huge sleeves that hung over her shoulders and sang Moloko’s signature song, ‘Sing It Back’. It’s always amazing seeing artists sing their most famous songs live but I was left a little disappointed by Róisín hardly singing the chorus and instead having the crowd sing it. I understand doing that once (especially because the song is literally called ‘Sing It Back’) but we’re not there to hear the audience sing (it’s not The Bodyguard!).
However, this was a thrilling performance, with Róisín holding the camera up to the audience, herself and the band, the recordings appearing onscreen. I felt like I was in a camp-tastic cult.
Róisín then opened up her leotard to expose her breasts and sang fan favourite ‘Murphy’s Law’ – the biggest song from Róisín Machine – before drinking a beer (it was well-deserved).
For the last section of the main set, Róisín wore a flowy rainbow dress and a dark blue, cone-shaped hat. This costume was noticeably different from the metallics she had clothed herself in previously.
The set began with ‘Ramalama (Bang Bang)’, with cartoon animals onscreen, one of which looked like Goofy. It felt like an acid trip. Róisín then threw a piece of red velvet-y fabric over one shoulder, like a section of a coat, and sang ‘Flash of Light’, before leaving the stage for the penultimate time.
For the encore, Róisín wore a velvet-y pantsuit with a matching scarf, hat and gloves. She began the performance singing into the camera, appearing onscreen with her band, before the group walked onstage. At first, she sat and stared into the camera, which was at the stage left. This created a paradox in which she was not looking directly at the audience but, at the same time, she was, because the recording was being shown live onscreen.
After three songs, Róisín left the stage for the final time, after two whole hours of music and madness. That woman has got some serious stamina.
I have never been to a gig quite so atmospheric and dreamlike. It was an electrifying experience for the senses. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, in the presence of a woman that is the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts in one.
Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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