Can an artist be quite entertaining, admirable even and yet… really quite annoying at the same time?
On the evidence of tonight, it would appear so; I’m looking at you, Ms. Murphy.
Turning up the kookiness, the creativity, the look-at-me-ain’t-I-bonkers-ness to eleven (million); whilst there’s plenty to enjoy, my God is it wearing at points.
Before we get to all that carry on though, a rather excellent afrobeat-inflected set is delivered by Damian Lazarus and the Ancient Moons.
Flanked by two fellows on various bits of electronica the main man and Crosstown Rebels label boss is a hive of energy around his own boxes of tricks, adding his own vocals – augmented for a few tunes by Zulu – and occasional attacks on some pretty impressive drums.
And drum action it is: a fusing of techno production and scything synth sounds next to warm, organic, voodoo atmospherics drifting in and out; it’s effective, thumping and an unexpected treat.
There’s a shamanistic vibe about it all up to and including a jaw-droppingly incongruous cover of ‘Abracadabra’ by the Steve Miller Band; remarkably, it works with grooving efficiency; excellent stuff.
With such an exhilarating beginning it’s somewhat of a disappointment to have to wait all of forty minutes for the arrival of the main event; such a gap may be appropriate in a stadium somewhere with the bar five miles away, but here in the cosy Sauchiehall Street venue it is a simple drag – a drag enlivened only by writing increasingly despairing scrawls in the notebook in the dark.
To be honest it’s a little insulting to fans who have fizzed along early: the stage prep takes twenty minutes, the rest? – who knows?
But when Roisin Murphy does arrive, well, kudos; it is spectacular.
Starting to sing with a radio mike somewhere down in the bowels of the venerable ex-cinema, our chanteuse is tracked with a camera shoved in her face, broadcasting her stalking about in the grimy gloom until…. with a contorted slither, on she slinks.
The piano groove of ‘ Let Me Know’ (mixed with some extra vocals nicked from somewhere else I can’t put my finger on) batters out with our elegantly erratic bag lady – this season’s look, clearly – giving it her all.
It’s impressive, no doubt about that.
As is, to a point, the rest of the set, up to and including the hits causing steam to come out some merry punters’ ears.
Unfortunately the eccentricity – aided and abetted by about fifteen costume changes (to varying degrees) – seems contrived and does wear a little.
The music is good, if not quite as excellent as her fans think it is, but the borderline zaniness is rained down from onstage with such persistence it’s all rather tiresome.
There’s a highlight when she appears dressed in what the notes describe as an exploded liver costume, but when the ticks and angular posturing end up distracting rather than adding, something is amiss; yes, we like your tight sweater – and the rest – now get on with it.
Fine enough gig, one of the best entrances I’ve ever seen, some diverting and very enjoyable tunes… was quite glad when it ended.
Tone it down, love; it’s tiring enough for me so God knows what it’s like from your side.
Words: Vosne Malconsorts
Photos: Thomas Ritchie