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Pure Pleasure: Roisin Murphy is Walking, Singing, Dancing Sex

A full on celebration of queer love, the Irish pop star brought her Hit Parade tour to Toronto.

by Aurora Zboch

Photos by Hella Wittenberg

June 10, 2024

Toronto, ON

History

Brains. Guts. Feet. Roisin Murphy dances the robot while body MRI scans pulse, guts flash, microscopic cells move on the screen behind her. The 50 year old Irish electropop singer was hearty and hellbent on embodying her sensual sounds on Toronto’s HISTORY stage.

We’re five songs in and she’s already switched accessories half a dozen times: A top hat, a beret, to chunky sunglasses. Suddenly, she’s wearing a black overcoat with a bedazzled scarf for “Coocool,” which samples Mike James Kirkland’s “Together” for its romantic hook. She is a lovebird in a beret and feather boa during the following transition, where she flaps her arms and the audience shouts, “Coo coo!” 

“Yer lovely aren’t yeh, Toronto?” Murphy flirted back. She played hits from her previous group Moloko including “Pure Pleasure Seeker,” “The Time is Now,” and “Sing It Back.” 

I overheard a group of men shouting upset that she doesn’t sell any of the outfits she wears as merch. Now she’s in a white suit jacket with a clown nose, yanking red silk ties out of various pockets, and tossing them into the crowd.

A guy stares into my eyes intensely and decides I’m worthy of sharing a dance. We shimmy shoulder to shoulder for a verse, his hips swaying harder than mine. He hops back to his group to kiss on all of them. 

 

 

The show was a celebration of queer love: I saw leather daddies caressing each other’s thighs; lanky futches bobbing their heads; and boyfriends holding one another like Rose and Jack on the titanic. 

With her back turned to the audience and she sings her thoughtful, visceral lyrics into the camera, which echoes back to us an intense gaze. My new friend John comes back while “Replicate” brings the set to its energetic peak. “People are so stupid — either you get it or you don’t,” he says while scolding his group for not dancing hard enough. The two of us, plus the rest of the room, make up for it. 

For “Murphy’s Law,” Murphy turned a camcorder towards the fans and films her band jamming to an extended salsa break. All the way to the back of the pit, bearded figures in neon vogue to the closing numbers.

John described it better than I could: Roisin Murphy’s music is “walking sex.” You can’t help but move — her five piece band has the grooves down to a science. 

During the encore, she strums a bouquet of roses, does push ups, and then shakes her ass for the camera one last time. She hits the keyboardist with roses, one by one, until the petals explode on his head. “All my life I’ve been searching for pure pleasure,” Murphy repeats, breathless. “This is where I find my pleasure.”