Goldfrapp at the Astoria...
Last night Marky, Paul, Simon and I went to see Goldfrapp on their UK tour. Seeing Goldfrapp at the Union Chapel was THE gig of last year if not ever for me and so my expectations were pretty darn'd high. I'd done my ground work too. I'd brought their new album Black Cherry a few weeks earlier and had it on repeat play at the office. Rather like their first album Felt Mountain, Black Cherry was a bit of slow burner at first but after about half a dozen listens I was hooked.
Prior to the gig we met up in Comptons for a swifty with Gazbags but failed rather miserably to persuade him to join us. Had we succeeded he might have had the rather unpleasant task of negotiating with touts (the gig was sold out ages ago). From what we saw later though the touts must have miscalculated rather badly the on-the-day demand as they found themselves asking not too much of a premium over the ticket price (supply and demand and all that). Serves them right!
Once inside the Astoria we got ourselves an overpriced can of beer and took up our usual position right behind the tallest man in the place.
The support act was the Mountaineers. I quite liked them - if that's not too damning with faint praise. My only real comment would be that they perhaps needed to polish up their stage act a bit. It wasn't exactly gripping. After they left the stage there then what seemed like an interminable wait as the two sets of roadies grappled with each other - one crew trying to remove the Mountaineeer's equipment and the other to setup Goldfrapp's. Ho hum.
Eventually the gig did start though - but really quite late (8:45pm) leaving just 80 minutes of available time to play (out by 10pm as G-A-Y was to start at 10:30pm) - but as Simon pointed out their two albums are only a little over 40 minutes each so they just didn't really have enough material to fill a longer set. I reluctantly agreed with him. Write some more stuff guys!
The set was divided into roughly three sections: firstly they rather religiously alternated between tracks from Felt Mountain and Black Cherry gradually introducing the crowd to their new material, in the second half of the gig they just went for broke and concentrated on the rockier tracks from Black Cherry and finally we had the encores. You would think that 'the encores' wouldn't be a section all by itself but there were three batches of them and they took up a large proportion of the gig - but more of that later.
Goldfrapp seem to have two main types of songs. The first being dreamy, floaty music that wafts across the listener as the remarkable instrument that is Alison's voice weaves in and out of the lush musical textures. The second is crashing, thrashing, smashing discord that more often that not sends Alison's voice from a base distorted screech soaring up to the high pitched wail of a siren beckoning you to a fate few could resist and few could survive. It's music that demands to be listened to not heard. We were treated to ample amounts of both types.
The audience last night started to sway at various points and yet few of them seemed to realise it. Heads would bob and shoulders would shake like puppets on strings under Goldfrapp's control. They had been captured by the overpowering force of what we were hearing and it had left them utterly spellbound. This entrapment was a joyous thing though judging by the smiles that had spread across every face. The silence of the crowd until the last note of each and every magnificent song was in stark counterpoint to the rapturous applause that was to follow.
In the end they played for just a disappointing 55 minutes finishing with the mighty track Black Cherry itself - but then we had a further 25 minutes of encores! Included in this last section was my favourite, Pilots complete with glitterball, and the 'surprise' encore (hinted at by Mike) - this even topped their cover of ONJ's Physical.
Alison's voice was in good shape throughout and as one guy remarked at the end, "Boy, can she sing! Not songs, mind you!" and that is indeed the delightful oxymoron that is Goldfrapp. Music but not as we know it.
Can't wait till the next gig.