For tonight’s gig at Bristol’s Colston Hall, Alison Goldfrapp offers us a show of two halves. With a five-piece backing band including violin, the show begins with a run-through of the woozy, reflective material from the latest album Tales of Us before rounding off with the foot-stomping Euro-disco that Goldfrapp first made waves with.
The dreamy tracks from Tales of Us are played with minimal spotlighting, the music washing over the audience. The material is sinister, beautiful and mournful – Annabelle is stripped down to acoustic guitar and Goldfrapp’s vocals, while Drew is remarkably pretty. The songs stand up on their own, but when played together they create a soundscape dripping with intrigue. The band is incredibly tight, and the outstanding acoustics of Colston Hall allow them to stay true to the material.
With the crowd lulled into a dreamlike state through the first hour, it becomes increasingly difficult to see how uptempo tracks such as Ooh La La could be segued in. Nonetheless, the band manage it by steadily increasing the pace until Ride A White Horse signals the start of the party.
However, Colston Hall’s failings are made clear during this second part of the show. Goldfrapp possess some serious floor fillers, but in the stuffy atmosphere of the venue it takes several of these tracks, including Ride…, Number 1 and Train to get the crowd on their feet. It is not until the final track of the evening, an extended version of Strict Machine, that the majority of the crowd is standing. Nevertheless, the material is played tightly, and with real passion and energy.
What becomes clear on the night is that Alison Goldfrapp is fast on her way to becoming this generation’s Kate Bush. She commands the stage despite moving very little and saying even less, and orchestrates the band superbly. She is both effervescent and enigmatic at the same time, surely the goal for any performer, and commands the total attention of the crowd. Her voice also offers up a dichotomy, at once both mellifluous and sharp, and it is obvious from the faces of the audience members that many, both male and female, have fallen madly in love with her.
With the addition of her latest songs, Goldfrapp has produced a show easily summed up in one word: gorgeous.
by Conal Dougan