Over the course of four albums, Goldfrapp have nailed the seemingly impossible task of making fantastically catchy yet mysteriously complex pop music. Comparing the English duo’s live show to a football match might, at first, seem like a strange analogy.
The band’s display in Tripod, however, had many ingredients that resembled a hard fought encounter between two teams, in this case the audience and the performer. The show had two distinct halves; the first was a subdued game of cat and mouse with each side reluctant to give anything away while the second half was far more open and entertaining.
The reason for this unusual sate of affairs stemmed from the actions of Alison Goldfrapp. Dressed in a revealing pink silk costume with a six-piece band (minus co-member Will Gregory), all in matching white, the singer was a picture of self-assured yet detached grace.
A couple of songs into the set, she brusquely requested that fans abstain from using flash photography. In Liverpool, a week earlier, Goldfrapp had stormed off stage due to this same request being ignored. Bristles of tension were palpable in the audience’s reaction and it created a frosty atmosphere that took time to thaw. Musically, the band never put a foot wrong. Utopia allowed Goldfrapp to show off her spectacular voice, and the spiky string arrangement of You Never Know was dazzling if not rousing.
Little Bird provided the breakthrough that brought proceedings to life. Allowing the musicians to flex their muscles, the swirling psychedelic folk tune triggered the dancing feet of the audience.
Following this with the electro-glam of Number 1 and candy-pop Happiness ensured everyone remained on-side. Even Goldfrapp finally appeared to be loosening out, as she tossed out compliments and lapped up the crowd’s responses.
With the squelchy synths of Train giving way to Goldfrapp’s possessed theremin playing the show had turned from a jittery competitive fixture to a full-on friendly.
Proving that it takes more than just great songs to make an excellent gig, and having delivered hits for a full 90 minutes, the band and fans parted in a wave of mutual adulation. BRIAN KEANE