Quirky is a lazy, clichd way to describe former Moloko singer Róisín Murphy but if quirky is defined as extraordinary then it is wholly apt, as her gig at the Scala in London clearly demonstrated.
The build-up to Murphy’s appearance generated sufficient excitement to keep the mature, stylish, and largely European crowd hungry. The lights dimmed, Al Wilson’s The Snake began playing – preparing the audience for the dancing they’d do throughout – and a spotlight fell on the microphone causing whoops and screams from the eager crowd.
Then Murphy’s backing band began, her distinctive vocals could be heard from the stage door and eventually she slinked on stage looking divine with sleek, red hair and an elegant but eccentric Alexander McQueen-style black satin dress.
She rattled through her new album Ruby Blue but this was a lot more than an obligatory, run-of-the-mill album showcase. Murphy put heart and soul into this performance, wholeheartedly engaging with the audience, which resulted in a dazzling display. Her erratic dance moves and bizarre costumes simply added to the occasion.
Musically Murphy’s material isn’t a dramatic diversion from her previous outfit Moloko, which hit the big time in the mid 1990s with the dancefloor classics Sing It Back and The Time Is Now. But it didn’t matter. Each song mixes thumping bass lines, erratic rhythms and the unique vocals of Murphy. Her range is simply extraordinary and she fluctuates superbly from the bizarre to the sublime.
She also made the most of technology to add to her natural talents, using a second microphone that created a haunting echo sound, which at times served as an extra backing vocal, creating texture to the overall aural experience. in with the upbeat dancey numbers were one or two slower ballads, which suggest that Murphy would be equally at home in a smoky 1930s jazz club and remind the audience of her gifts as a a vocalist.
The singer also understands that the visual experience at a live music is equally as important at a live show as the aural. Her showmanship was highly individual and her costumes, extremely creative. The McQueen-esque number was replaced by a mystical cloak that bordered slightly on ridiculous but top marks for effort. The wizard get-up was ditched in favour for a stunning white jacket and feathered, sparkling crown for the title track of her first album, Ruby Blue, which the crowd lapped up. For the highly-demanded encore Murphy returned in a space-age catsuit that wouldn’t look out of place on a Star Trek set, but quite frankly it wouldn’t have mattered if she had appeared in a bin liner such was the audience’s desire for some more.
Róisín Murphy proved that there is life after Moloko at the Scala. She is a unique performer and certainly thrilled her existng fanbase and undoubtedly won over a few new ones too. She was a joy to watch from start to finish and deserves a fruitful and lengthy career in the music business. Let’s hope the time is now for her.