"Maybe I’m just meant to do people’s heads in!"
Last night was number ten of the eleven London iTunes Sessions and it was Roisin Murphy’s turn to climb the stage of the AIR Studios. The disused church in London’s posh Hampstead area offers a unique setting for small performances. Though it lacks the charisma of Paradiso in Amsterdam, also a former church, it is very small and intimate in comparison.
After a set of songs by Israeli-born artist Yoav, who shares with Roisin the honour of being iTunes artist of the year, Miss Murphy and her band entered the stage and performed a mellowed down version of Movie Star.
If Roisin were a country singer, I’m sure this would be her signature tune. Especially the verses, like I’m a headstrong girl, I’m afraid I won’t be told, have a strong narrative quality about them. At the same time, Roisin’s voice never gives away whether Movie Star is a tale of lost innocence or a clever slice of irony. A truly brilliant performance of a song that is slowly becoming a personal favourite of mine.
Though Roisin had to be corrected by one of the band members about the order of things, next on were Let Me Know and You Know Me Better. The latter was clearly an audience favourite, being welcomed by loud cheers. The amazing performance of the song was very much identical to the one at the Choice Music Prize awards in Dublin the other night.
At the end of You Know Me Better, Roisin received a loud applause. The upcoming single was followed by Primitive, which near the end displayed the full power of Roisin's voice.
After Primitive, Roisin was ready to Ramalama (Bang Bang). She joked that hearing this song too much does one’s head in. Reflecting on that, she openly wondered if maybe she is just “meant to do people’s heads in”. Whatever the case may be, can one ever get enough of this song? I certainly can’t, so keep doing our heads in Roisin!
Next on was Overpowered, which was given a soulful makeover that lent it a whole new dimension. Stripped of its icy beats and sung in a slightly slower tempo with mellow background vocals, it becomes a torch song about the power of love.
The finale of the evening was a duet with Tony Christie, famous for his song (Is the Way To) Amerillo. As Roisin prepared the stage for Christie’s entry (see picture above), she described him as “as a lovely man, who I’ve only just met”.
When Christie came on stage, jokingly asking Roisin if she had expected someone younger, they sang a medley of Roisin’s album track Scarlet Ribbons and the pop standard of the same title. When Roisin said her version was written as a tribute to her father, Christie responded he would be her surrogate father for the night.
After Scarlet Ribbons, the session had come to an end. Before Roisin left the stage she thanked her band, backing singers and blew a few kisses of gratitude to the audience.
How did she leave me, as a member of that audience?
Well, I was once again overwhelmed by Roisin’s stage-presence but even more so by the power of her voice. All the show and performance put aside, last night reminded me why I became fascinated by the depth and beauty of that voice about eight years ago. It’s the thing about Roisin Murphy that is truly most overpowering!
Roisin Murphy's iTunes Session will be available for download on iTunes in about ten days from now.