Monday, 7 April 2008

Roisin Doll

Roisin Murphy, Metro Theatre

Is Roisin Murphy the best pop star in the world? I suppose it depends what you're after, but after seeing her performance last Wednesday at the Metro I came away thinking that maybe she might damn well be just that. Certainly it's hard to think of someone who's the more complete article (no Irish pun intended). Comparisons with Debbie Harry are obvious but consider their pre-fame indie/punk backgrounds, their similar ages when Blondie were at their peak (Roisin is almost 35), and a shared understanding that a knowing wink here and a coy look there can send the crowd into (ahem) rapture and the comparisons are not unfair. Murphy clearly has an intuitive visual sense which, combined with various charity shop chic costume changes evoked other consummate stars in their peak as diverse as Jarvis, George Michael and Adam Ant.

The truth is Roisin Murphy is captivating over two hours - her performance arch, theatrical, silly, flirty, cold, funny, carnal, brilliant but above all honest. She is capable of being all these things and somehow you know that she's the type of person who always gets the pints in and probably even buys crisps and peanuts for everyone at her table. Which is something that you probably couldn't say about Madonna, Rhianna, Britney or Kylie. Maybe Gwen would...

Her songs - tragically - are not completely worthy of her; some meander a little too long, others too tied to the yawn of the noughties, electro. I have no bones with stars who go solo and want to play their own stuff (apart from a bad experience with Sting in 1995 but really I should have known better) so I'm slightly ashamed to report that my favourite moment of the night was the only Moloko song she played - a glorious rendering of Forever More slowed down and sung with her two backing singers against a Roy Lichtenstein homage backdrop. She does have some marvelous music moments of her own - a Teutonic wig out in Overpowered, the Erasure- meets- Kylie camp of Movie Star, a kind of sexy global warming warning in Dear Miami, a cool-as-f *ck reworking of The Truth, a collaboration with Handsome Boy Modeling School from 2000 - but through it all I couldn't escape the feeling that the real thrill was just being in the same room as Roisin herself. A little like Pulp and the early Manic Street Preachers sometimes it's the effort and feeling that you're amongst good people that we applaud rather than the life-changing music. But don't let that stop you applauding.

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