As a nod to her becoming the first contemporary musician to put on a show in Shakespeare’s Globe, a jester’s hat and wide ruff were some of the more predictable things that Roisin Murphy wore last night. The electronic musician took less from Shakespeare, more from Brecht, deconstructing the illusion of the impeccable pop costume change as she wrestled herself into endless outlandish outfits in front of the audience.
Lauren Laverne’s Wonder Women series of concerts in the Shakespeare’s Globe complex has shone a welcome spotlight on some overlooked female artists, but felt rather low-key while the summer festival season crashes onwards, with its short sets in the smaller theatre next door. It fell to Murphy to bring some star power to the concept.
Having dipped a toe in the pop world in the past with her former band Moloko (whose Sing It Back was only aired as a singalong snippet here) today she is increasingly out there, singing in Italian, performing Whatever while banging her microphone stand with a hammer, and delivering Exploitation while wearing a wedding dress draped in crime scene tape.
The outfit alterations threatened to become a distraction, with Murphy seeming unable to settle into the groove of a song, instead lurching between the headgear, glasses, robes and (of course) a kind of beard attachment made of orange streamers, that coiled across the floor like the guitarist’s leads.
It was all fabulously irreverent, daring to have flashing lights, video screens and a hat like a dead flamingo in the home of sonnets and soliloquies. Murphy’s restless energy carried some fabulous songs too, notably Overpowered with its banjo makeover, and Evil Eyes with its propulsive beat and bright flashes of synth.
“If music be the food of love, play on!” she shouted. This Midsummer’s Night Dream was a weird one, but a good one.