Goldfrapp @ Colston Hall, Bristol, 1/04/14

GoldfrappGoldfrapp have my curiosity before I even take a seat in the Colston Hall. I’ve always been ambivalent to the duo, comprising of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory. They’re perfectly enjoyable on record, but I've been told that this pleasant music takes on a whole new lease of life in the live arena. Goldfrapp then, joined by four session musicians for this tour, have my attention as well as my curiosity when they emerge on stage to Prokofiev's Peter & The Wolf - complete with Disney narration.

The first six songs of the evening come from the duo's latest album, 2013's Tales of Us. The lighting is just as consistent, with spotlights illuminating various band members as they give their contribution to proceedings. The sound is glorious, but nothing terribly imaginative. The obvious conclusion from this opening stint would be to dismiss the performance as monochrome like the spotlights that occasionally fix themselves on the band. Yet Goldfrapp give off a hypnotic aura as they charm their way through their material. In a strange way this minimalist set up gives off a low key, but successful opening.

After this point the band showcase a much more career-spanning selection of songs; and with it a much more elaborate lighting deck than previous. Goldfrapp, now six albums and fifteen years into their critically acclaimed career, deliver a variety of tracks and with them an impressive array of sounds that slowly build the atmosphere in Colston Hall.

This atmosphere is waiting to bubble over and with the heartbreaking "Thea", followed by "Number 1", Colston Hall finally gets to its feet to set about dancing. The run of songs towards the end of the gig are judged to perfection, in terms of slowly upping the tempo: as "Number 1" approaches its first chorus, there’s just one woman in the audience on her feet, two and a half songs later, after "Ride a White Horse" and a euphoric performance of "Train", the entire lower section stand up.

The encore follows a similar pattern. The luscious string sections excel in "Utopia" and send the audience back to their seats, half in awe at the power of the song. It’s a short lived return to the seats though, as the energy slowly builds once more. Eventually there’s nobody in the entire hall left in their seat by the time "Strict Machine" reaches its chorus and closes the set with an astounding lighting show.

In the early throes of Goldfrapp's gig, I was hypnotised, but had the cautious feeling like the show had the danger of becoming one dimensional. By the end I realised how naive and unfounded my suspicions were - the sheer variety of music on show throughout this gig and the variety of reactions this provoked is what made this gig the memorable occasion it developed into.


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