Review: Goldfrapp @ Manchester Academy

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By David Keyworth

“You’re in for a really amazing show,” Catherine Pockson the lead singer of Alpines tells us, during their impressive support slot. Is this an opinion based on the previous two shows of this tour or just a showbiz platitude?

At 9pm, musicians dressed in black take the stage. Alison Goldfrapp soon follows them, and takes up centre stage. She wears a crimson dress, with flowing wings, and her hair has a red tint.

The second song Anymore – from the latest album, Silver Eye – establishes the tempo for the evening, with its catchy synth-pop and earworm chorus. When the sexy beats of Train (from 2003 album Black Cherry) kick in, it is clear that we are in for a night of disco, rather than the more ethereal and introspective side of the band’s back catalogue.

Alison Goldfrapp is a charming mixture of shyness and flamboyance. She engages in brief but good-natured banter between each song – complimenting those at the front on their outfits and occasionally shouting “Thank you Manchester”. However, it is clear that she prefers to communicate through music and the persona she has adopted.

She has a compelling stage presence – as if under the spell of the music as much as casting it herself. She  hunches over the microphone as if her movement was restricted. At other times, when the pulsating rhythms demand it, she marches on the spot, leans forwards and throws her hands in the air.

The show reaches its peak with a sequence of Goldfrapp electro-classics – Number 1, Ride a White Horse and Ooh La La. The crowd dances and sings along as if they’re at the legendary New York nightclub Studio 54.

The screen at the back of the stage adds to the art-pop quality of the show. It mainly shows pictures of stars and rocky landscapes – echoing Silver Eye’s lyrical references and sleeve-images. The engineers also deserve a lot of credit for the robust sound quality.

After leaving the stage for a brief period, the band return for two more songs – Systemagic, from the latest album, and another synth-classic from Black CherryStrict Machine.

The show finished at 10.15pm. The band could have carried on longer and no doubt, the capacity crowd would have danced until the end. But this was a show about intensity rather than an exhaustive set list.

The Manchester crowd were also lucky to see Goldfrapp at all, as their Facebook page says that their Birmingham show has been cancelled – “Under doctors’ orders, Alison has been advised not to perform”.

In the old showbiz maxim, Goldfrapp left us wanting more and hoping that Alison Goldfrapp would return with new songs and a new stage persona.

Another message, also on the band’s Facebook page, offers hope that this will happen. It read: “Manchester thank you so much! I have to admit I was quite nervous tonight, crazy but you are so fabulous and it means a lot to me to play for you! Thank you for being so warm and lovely”.

David Keyworth is an MA Creative Writing student, specialising in poetry

About the author / 

David Keyworth

David Keyworth recently completed his MA Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. He previously won a new poet’s bursary in the Northern Writers' Awards (New Writing North). His debut pamphlet 'The Twilight Shift' is available from WildPressed Books Find more of his work here:

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