Anybody who has seen GOLDFRAPP live would not hesitate to say that Alison Goldfrapp has the voice of a goddess. With an amazing vocal range, from the huskier depths to the operatic highs, she’s excellent live and it’s no wonder that their Salford show is a massive sell-out.
Goldfrapp are touring again, and the Lowry is packed to the rafters, with some poor fans scrabbling around in the foyer for any last-minute returns.
Following the band’s latest and sixth studio album Tales of Us released last September, the exclusive screening of a 30-minute film to accompany the album was transmitted into several international cinemas back in January, nailing home the message that this band is so much more than a collection of musicians – it’s an evolving creative project. In addition, Alison took time out to curate the first exhibition within The Lowry’s new “Performer as Curator” series, which recently ended.
Tonight, we’re promised a diverse set, comprising different eras and shades of the Goldfrapp sound. Intrigue, beauty and style are all qualities which ring true when you’re transported into the world of Goldfrapp. Lights dim, voices silence, spotlights appear on the lead singer and her pop orchestra, and we’re already captivated without even a note yet sounded. Alison looks exquisite in a slick black ensemble, her trademark blonde curls falling about her, and as the instruments kick in, we find ourselves well and truly in the darker depths of the Goldfrapp universe.
Playing through several tracks off the new album, they reach the stunningly haunting Annabel, reminding us of the band’s enormous stretch of diversity and fascination with the human condition. The epitome of the album’s flavour, this track is an intimate exploration of identity and human connectivity – we’re a long way from the carefree glam rock days of Black Cherry and Supernature, but rather like a night in watching a classic black and white movie with someone you normally party with in clubs night after a night, the experience is equally satisfying. It’s refreshing to see a band’s soul in a live performance, their humility with the new direction apparent, and the sounds wonderfully cinematic. The relatively reticent Alison swigs a drink in between tracks, toasting the crowd with a “Cheers!” – she’s completely at home with her audience but has no intention of taking them for granted.
For Yellow Halo, stark spotlighting switches to a stage bathed in glorious red as the electro beats indicate an entry into a different atmospheric zone. Little Bird sees some fantastic light displays including full rainbow spectacle, as Alison now shows signs of loosening up for the increasingly dance-paced set. We’re in Supernature territory with You Never Know, and the audience reaction is utterly immense as the intro to Number 1 chimes in. It’s hard to describe the energy in the room at the time, but it’s a moment I won’t forget anytime soon. Nothing, however, can beat the incredible reaction to Ride A White Horse. No sparkly horse head-pieces, but the heart of the song is there with every step and glitch – it’s one of those songs that everybody on the planet needs to dance to at least once in their life. The audience, who cannot contain themselves any longer, jump up from their cosy seats and throw shapes in front of the stage and in the aisles. The normally sedate Lowry is turned into nightclub, and Alison Goldfrapp is in her diva element, striking poses that only she can strike and keeping fans on a high.
Immediately after, we get Black Cherry favourite Train as an extra treat. One of the tracks which catapulted the band into the eyes of the mainstream music media, performed live, this still beats any other track doing the rounds these days, demonstrating this band’s incredible musicianship which goes far beyond that of many a hype band out there today.
Take that, and as Alison bows, says her thank yous and goodbyes, we’re left bereft. But not for long, they’re back and straight into the back catalogue with stormer Utopia and those incredible high notes. Forget recorded, the vocals are spell-binding live, and everyone in the room is practically ready to burst with pleasure as Alison belts out the closing note. The encore ends with the spectacularly bassy and sexy Strict Machine, a brilliant song to end on. Visibly moved by the audience response, Alison shouts out “Gorgeous!” as she bows and thanks everyone. The band make their exit while I’m left on a euphoric high wanting to carry on dancing all night – such is the intoxicating pull of the Goldfrapp sound. Goes down as one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.