As a longtime Roisin Murphy fan, I was thrilled to see her live for the first time and cover her show for the Third Coast Review.
This summer, Roisin Murphy became the first pop singer to perform at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. This taste for the theatrical was on full display last week during her sold out show at the Double Door.
The Irish avant-garde pop star had plenty to share while touring on her recent LP Take Her Up To Monto, a follow up to 2015’s Hairless Toys. After an eight-year hiatus from recording, Murphy’s fans welcomed her back with frenzied applause that shook the packed venue from door to door.
Murphy’s range was on parade all evening. Musically, she sampled her entire catalogue, including “In sintesi” from her Italian covers EP, and several cuts from her work in the ‘90s trip hop duo Moloko. She dove from throaty cabaret vocals into funk, disco, and even a banjo rendition of “Overpowered” from the 2007 album of the same name. The crowd belted every lyric, including Murphy’s recent releases which comprised most of the set list.
Have I mentioned that she delivered this energetic, visual arts enigma while playing dress up? From swinging around an oversized leather purse stuffed with red ribbon to donning a swan headpiece, Murphy reached around the stage for feather boas and face masks without ever missing a beat. She changed her appearance several times throughout the course of most songs, only leaving the stage to do so twice.
“I like Chicago so much, I was thinking about building a wall to keep us all in. Or a big tower, Murphy Tower” Murphy joked on the eve of America’s election. One day later, most the audience would be feeling very different than they did during this jubilant performance.
Yet in the days since the election I have gone back to that room. The crowd that gathered to celebrate artistic expression included straight, gay, and trans men and women. It included fans with disabilities. It included a spectrum of race. It was moving. Roisin Murphy showed us many faces that night in a room that pulsated with creativity, inclusion, and positivity. That is the face I will choose as I confront a divided country.