Goldfrapp: Symphony Hall, Birmingham – 26/03/2014

Goldfrapp  opened up their spring Tales of Us tour last night at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, having already hit the road in the UK and Europe last autumn.

It was the London-based, French indie-electro-pop trio, We Were Evergreen who opened the show with a brief, yet very impressive introduction into their forthcoming album Towards. The multi-talented Parisian threesome delivered a very tight, well-rehearsed six song set showcasing their folk melodies and exotic rhythms blended alongside their electro-beats. From the tranquil opening of ‘Dormant’ to the drum-infused crescendo of ‘Belong’ you’d be forgiven if you thought you were listening to a six-piece outfit.

As the house lights faded, surprisingly and befitting the venue, it was the spoken introduction to Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf – “Are you comfortable? Then let us begin” that kicked off the show. Alison Goldfrapp, clearly showing her first night jitters, together with the five-strong backing band, took to the stage starting the proceedings with the somewhat sombre album opener ‘Jo’. ‘Drew’ an eerie, yet captivating number led into ‘Stranger’, a brilliant song with a classical sweep.

Almost, at times, seeking reassurance from the band, especially Angie Pollock (keyboards), Alison made light of her nerves, “Is there something you can take for nerves? Maybe I should start taking drugs. After all, you’re never too old to start!” she asked the crowd jokingly. ‘Alvar’, ‘Annabel’ and ‘Clay’ with their echoic, ethereal vocals drifting above an electro-folk backing with flourishes of orchestral grandeur still managed to captivate as Alison used her gorgeous, yet terrifying vocals to complement her talented minstrels.

‘Yellow Halo’, from 2012’s The Singles album was a beautifully placed hidden gem within the night’s offerings. The almost psychedelic hippy vibe was taken a step further with ‘Little Bird’, as the band jammed into an electro-trance, almost reminiscent of Barrett’s Floyd.

The set was one almost cleaved into two, the more hauntingly lyrical and sophisticated  first half being replaced by an energetic, pulsating beat-driven second as both Alison and the crowd came more to life with ‘You Never Know’ and their electro-pop top-ten single, ‘Number 1’.

Alison beckoned the crowd to stand up, yet with a terribly British attitude only a few dared. However, the fluffed start to disco-glam favourite ‘Ride a White Horse’ (explained by  “There was something wrong. It wasn’t me!”), finally had the house on its feet, and the party began. ‘Ooh La La’ rocked, with its heavy, fast-paced beat and surging bass, the dance-floor diva had her fans boogieing in the gallery.

After a short interval, Goldfrapp returned for a five track encore. ‘Utopia’, with its interwoven dream pop electronica sound, and ‘Lovely Head’ – a couple of tracks from 2000’s debut album Felt Mountain, divided by ‘Clowns’.  Any mellow enchantment was soon shunted to the sidings by ‘Train’ with its incessant pounding bass line. Goldfrapp pushed the momentum to its electro finale and closed the show with a belting rendition of ‘Strict Machine’.

As expected Goldfrapp’s set strongly featured offerings from their latest album Tales of Us. However, there was plenty more in tonight’s eighteen tunes to keep Frapp fans more than content. All in all, despite the first night nerves, Alison and co, under the watchful eye of Will Gregory at the sound deck, put on a show to remember.

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Mark Woodward

Cheery careers guru with a love for life, music, writing, photography, sport & the media, so expect careers morsels & personal whims! 'Feminised, leftish male.' 'Herald of the new pop revolution.'