Why not indeed, given the debt the bear-like New Jersey-native owes to this rainy Northern township, the birthplace of Factory Records and the Hacienda. The musical blood shared with natives New Order and the Buzzcocks hangs in the air, permeating an exhilarating evening; one that serves as a victory lap and blistering affirmation of their position as the dance-punk kingpins of their generation.
It’s been two-and-a-half years since Murphy got the band back together following their 2011 dissolution; nine months since they artistically justified their return to critics with the magnificent American Dream.
Despite having been on the road near-continuously since 2016, they still deliver with a fresh, near-animalistic energy; a hedonistic aural assault of ecstatic peaks that not so much ebbs and flows as continually crashes down.
There’s great joy to be had in identifying the magpie-picked influences; opener You Wanted a Hit recalls the work of Bernard Summer with propulsive, intent before erupting into the kraut-funk of Tribulations, which comes across like Simple Minds’ Love Song beefed up on steroids.
The players around Murphy make for a kinetic force of nature; keyboardist Nancy Whang takes lead vocals on a stocky, disco rendition of Chic’s I Want Your Love and drummer Pat Mahoeny keeps the tempo firmly at pulse-pounding. Their musical variations at further light and shade; Movement goes full acid freak-out and Someone Great’s twinkling synths are swamped by deeper-pitched drone-bass that twists its shimmering eulogy into anxious paranoia.
Murphy holds his own amongst the increasing dancefloor maelstrom throughout, presiding over his work like an avuncular arbiter of sonic euphoria. Tonite’s niggling electro sees his best Robert Smith impression, yelping frantically from atop a monitor; Oh Baby captures him in stately, Eno-esque balladeer mode, utterly riveting.
As a full-throttle finale of Dance Yrself Clean and All My Friends threatens to shake the venue’s balcony from its foundations, he howls with raw passion and emotion, trying to make himself heard over the holler of the crowd shouted back at him.
If Murphy wants to come back again next year for another round of joyous musical catharsis, nobody is going to be left complaining.