Few acts put on a show like Roisin Murphy. Aided by a selection of capes, shades and fabulous hats, she plays a disco diva, an ice queen and a chic sophisticate, remaining immaculately coiffed throughout. Movie Star opens with a seated, silhouetted Murphy crooning an a cappella phrase from Somewhere Over the Rainbow before launching into her own song with uninhibited panache. Neither Murphy's trademark robotic shimmying nor her inability to stay still for more than a few seconds at a time have been slowed by her recent serious eye injury, sustained on stage in Moscow, and her energy doesn't flag once during a two-hour set.
Parallels with Gwen Stefani spring to mind. Both are platinum blond erstwhile frontwomen of acts who made waves late in their career (Stefani with No Doubt, Murphy with Moloko); both are fond of offbeat couture and terrific dance beats; both are commanding performers. Murphy's career has been characterised so far by flirtations with straightforward pop, but with her penchant for experimental electronic tangents, she has mostly ended up playing hard to get. On Overpowered, the revelation is how wholly she has given in to pop's embrace while retaining her natural eccentricity, and this translates superbly to the stage. Thunderous beats betray Murphy's background in the 1990s house scene and threaten to turn the venue into a rave-up; it's impossible not to dance.
Perhaps Murphy's most underrated quality, though, is her voice - a deeply soulful instrument that ebbs and flows serenely above the music. It comes into its own during the gorgeous torch ballad Tell Everybody: as stars of light dot the venue, Murphy pleads and aches with longing, effortlessly finding the heartbeat at the centre of her glamorous disco tumult.
From today's Guardian.