It’s been almost 30 years since Róisín Murphy first emerged onto the music scene as part of electronic duo Moloko. Yet somehow, she has succeeded in constantly being ahead of the game. From anticipating the wave of the recent disco revival with her last record Róisín Machine, to becoming a mainstay on the club scene as a result of her numerous collaborations with major producers, Murphy has a knack for carving out her own lane. And Thursday’s gig at the legendary Royal Albert Hall provided the ultimate Róisín Murphy experience – a collision of all different elements of her opus. Starting with those chart-topping Moloko days and her experimental, boundary-pushing solo debut in Ruby Blue all the way to her sun-infused, yet-to-be-named upcoming album.
Though often an overused term for musicians, Murphy proudly embodies eclecticism with her sound. Jumping from sub-genre to sub-genre, the only common thread in her artistry is her captivating voice, permanently layered with a sense of humour. Without much talking in between, those eras flopped and intertwined into one big megamix at the fully seated Royal Albert Hall, a venue that felt somewhat unexpected for someone who revels in the art of dance and movement. But most of the plush red velvet stalls in the Hall were left folded as the Irish musician threw a proper rave that forced even shyest dancers in the room to move along.
As with her previous tour (which included a 2022 headline performance at Glastonbury’s West Holts Stage), the set started with the musician and her band backstage. The audience peeked into what felt like an intimate warm-up jam to Simulation via a live-stream on the tall LED stage screens. The camera became part of the show a couple more times during the set, including when Murphy took it into her own hands and pointed it at the crowds during Sing It Back. The Moloko classic was a resounding crowd-pleaser, especially when the band more directly referenced the recognisable guitar riffs from the 1999 Boris Dlugosch remix in the second half of the song. Another magical moment came during Something More, which felt like a flaunt of Murphy’s incredibly powerful vocals accompanied by an epic light show.
The energy in the room never dipped throughout the 2-hour set, even during more downtempo tracks, like her latest single CooCool, the crowds swaying throughout. In fact, it was some of her unreleased songs that received the most rapturous reception, including Free Will, Fader and new track The Universe, set to drop on May 17th, proving that there’s a true summer album incoming, infused by the influences Murphy picked up during her Ibizan residence. With elements of Bachata and a heavy dose of cowbell and other percussion, the sound instantly transports to a place of sunshine.
Known for always enriching her sound with powerful visuals, Murphy didn’t disappoint in the costume department either. She came out in an asymmetric metallic blue two-piece by American designer Rick Owens, paired with a pointy hat reminiscent of Pinocchio’s. This was just the first in a line-up of many outfits, all varying in silhouette but similar in their exuberance. She continually shed layers and used her clothes as props, picking up accessories that were peppered throughout the stage and transforming into different characters.
In a somewhat unexpected finale, Murphy finished her encore with Unputdownable off her 2015 record Hairless Animal, with an updated arrangement that culminated in Murphy and her five-piece band performing again in the backstage halls of the Royal Albert Hall, this song was a melange of her club classic origins and the sound of her future incoming – a perfect ending for a night that felt like a victory lap. And it’s clear there are many more victories yet to come.