Roísín Murphy is a tease. She knows what you want and she'll give it to you, eventually. But part of her surprise is that the wait for the big reveal is almost more exciting than the endgame. So much so in fact that she'll teach you a lesson: the wait is almost more fun than the revealing light.
Here she is above, wandering through her huge curtain, for a brief moment. She's naturally wearing an extraordinary hat, wrapped in a huge yellow feather boa and an is-that couture? coat. We're never sure if she's wearing 2009 Dior or something she picked up in a charity shop just before the show and it almost doesn't matter, even when she is wearing a huge houndstooth deer around her back. The singer wears the clothing, but she also seems to wear the songs. She stalks, she peeps, she gyrates, she teases. And for all the slow unraveling, the viewer is both hungry for more and secretly desiring delayed gratification. Even the venison was treated this way - it was Bambi who peeped through the curtain before our genial Irish hostess.
A year ago I saw Roísín at the Koko in Camden. It was a good show, but rather different to the one I saw just recently. For one, she played mainly songs from Overpowered back then, while she relied on a broader mixture of material from both her solo albums this time around. Last time she seemed to reinvent and stretch the new songs to longer versions, this time they were punchier and more true to the recording, albeit with the occasional twist. This approach made me happier than when last time particularly Let me know seemed to be deconstructed and twisted a step too far, almost as if she was trying to make it less obvious. That was a mistake: this time her finest song was total perfection.
Just a few days before, I had been to see Goldfrapp and funnily enough the two shows were quite comparable. That's not to do either down, but there was something about these two fashion-conscious yet epically musical women that meant one inevitably compared. Alison I have my issues with. Roísín I do not. She didn't talk a lot, just the occasional bit of light banter but she was warm and likeable - we knew she was engaging with us. Plus the fashion was artful and always worn with such humour there was no other way but to smile and admire her for doing it in such a unique way. Goldfrapp felt like cheerless paganism by contrast. Of course her album has had much longer to seep into the collective cerebelli of the audience than a year ago. Dear Miami with its burning palm tree projections was a major highlight. You know me better another. Overpowered was perfection to begin the show.
Maybe her album didn't sell by the shedload, but her songs sounded like Greatest Hits, and the show was a sell-out. That's no small matter