Jamie Tabberer

Gig review – Goldfrapp

We *think* Alison smiled at us

So, Alison actually melted her icy stares and steely sexuality for a warm and vaguely Christmassy Goldfrapp gig at St-John-At-Hackney the other night, in support of Mencap. The sometimes electro-pop, sometimes acoustic-indie outfit took the latter path for their involvement in the recent Little Noise Sessions: a series of performances by the likes of Coldplay and Marina organised to raise awareness of one of one of the countries leading charities for people with learning disabilities.

It was a refined, chilled out and, dare we say it, grown up set, very Seventh Tree-heavy. Not a bad thing – just a bit, well, quiet, and sadly lacking the glorious 80s synth moments from last year’s massively underrated Head First.
Indeed, an audience comprised mostly of late 20s/early 30s gays (many of whom were so obsessive in their fandom they still danced like teenage idiots) literally begged for Rocket at the encore to no avail. They seemed nevertheless content with Alison’s honeyed but occasionally under-powering tones, which do exude beauty within the folk context, and in this case were complimented by a soft string section and bolstered by a smallish backing choir. In typical Goldfrapp-style, they were largely immobile and donned antlers on their heads, a throwback to the cute but creepy imagery of the Seventh Tree era.

Ooh La La worked better with an acoustic refit then expected. A little too well, arguably: its sultry climax cranked up the volume to a dizzy, almost orchestral level all-too fleetingly; arms were raised in the air only to drop straight back down again for the gentle sweetness of Clowns and Caravan Girl and the intoxicating slow-burner Black Cherry. New track Melancholy Sky is of a similar vein: weird, restrained romance and spooky profundity (or perhaps we’d just inhaled too much incense by this point) and unusual lyrics that you’ll undoubtedly need to Google.

It was an interesting moment for the band, and they sounded lovely, albeit they'd have sounded lovelier if we, the audience, had been sat down. An unbelievable comment to make given the Supernature days, when, at a Goldfrapp gig, you'd be more inclined to dry hump the leg of the person next to you than rest your own, but there we are. On the flip side, they're so multi-faceted a band, and still so full of surprises, it's impossible to lose interest in them.

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