Four Four contributor Mark Davis documents his experience of Arklow sensation and all around absolute legend: Róisín Murphy and her gig at the o2 Academy in Brixton, London.
Following on from my last contribution which detailed my experience clubbing abroad in these current times, I’m now going to do the same again with my experience at Róisín Murphy and her tour at the o2 Academy in Brixton.
Róisín Murphy is no stranger to us as dance music fans, between her many classics released over the years (with ‘Moloko’ being the most obvious one), to her numerous solo studio albums, alongside collaborations with some of house music’s leading producers such as Sébastien Léger, Boris Dlugosch and David Morales to name a few… There is no justice I could do to sum her and her music up in just a few short words, but hopefully this gives a sense of what was in store.
Her lockdown home concerts brought joy to so many of us during the difficult times we went through with no live events, as her absolutely chaotic energy and stage presence was felt through our screens as if we were in the crowd. This created a very special feeling in the lead up to the gig and it was also very exciting to know that material from both Róisín Machine and her Crooked Machine remix album would finally be performed to a real life crowd that I could be a part of.
Doors for the show opened at 7pm with a local selector warming up with classic Detroit house and techno spun on wax, which created a good buzz for the budding crowd. Myself and probably many of those within were also then going through the realisation that this was our first indoor arena show in nearly two years. It didn’t quite sink in for a while due to the slight glimpses of normality I experienced recently while clubbing abroad and from outdoor shows at home, but this was a whole other level altogether!
The show then began very unusually with Murphy on a livestream mysteriously walking through the backstage of the venue making her way to the stage, building up the atmosphere very slowly with the Crooked Man Rhumba remix of ‘Jealousy’ which eventually dropped when she arrived and the crowd then went wild. Having released an album during a very low point for electronic music during the height of lockdown, where many may have distanced themselves from music altogether, it was so refreshing to see that the crowd knew every word to most tracks played on ‘Róisín Machine’ such as ‘Murphy’s Law’, ‘Narcissus’ and ‘Simulation’.
A personal highlight was hearing her single ‘Overpowered’ from the album of the same name. I distinctly remember watching this one on MTV Dance as a nipper when my obsession had already well begun. Murphy also provided the audience with her effortless outfit changes throughout the show, something ever so fascinating and confusing to watch as she simply removed the clothes she had on to reveal another beautiful green garment underneath and so on. I actually lost count of how many times this happened.
I remember not knowing exactly what to expect from a Róisín show when seeing her for the first time at Electric Picnic 2019, before the days of her home livestreams. As there was only limited footage out there at the time, most notably the iconic Glastonbury 2000 Moloko performance, it was inspiring to see how she captivated the audience with her outfit changes and obscure blow up doll (which she carried around the whole time)… something very hard to do on day 3 of a festival.
Later, she closed with her hit from Moloko’s ‘Statues’ album with Familiar Feeling, starting in an acoustic format, then building up with her full band behind her. This was simply the perfect finisher for the show, and was no doubt symbolic for many, if not all of the crowd, as we finally gathered back in a venue which created an emotional atmosphere.
Be sure to check out Róisín Murphy’s home lockdown concerts via her YouTube, most notably her one from her home in Ibiza, and if you’ve been living under a rock, be sure to check out Róisín Machine and Crooked Machine.
Image credit: Credit: Gus Stewart/Redferns