Between a Dream and a Whisper
I’m coining a new verb. To be ‘Goldfrapped’ means to have been on a magical journey of mind, body and soul. You’ll have an inkling of what this means if you’ve ever heard a Goldfrapp song and liked it. You’ll understand if you’ve ever seen them perform. You’ll absolutely agree if you are lucky enough to have seen Goldfrapp at the Manchester International Festival.
Some 14 years on from their debut record, Felt Mountain, Goldfrapp return with their sixth studio album due out this September and, tonight, the Albert Hall concert showcases the ethereal, mesmeric and moving tunes we can look forward to.
Alison Goldfrapp appears on the Albert Hall stage, looking something like Jean Harlow – dressed in black and with platinum locks, sounding almost like an angel. She’s accompanied by the Royal Northern College of Music’s 20-strong string orchestra, a choir and her five-piece band.
The venue is fitting. Even for the non-believers, it feels a spiritual experience – stained-glass windows, pipe-organ (sadly not in use) and wooden benches on which the audience sit, fanning themselves in the glorious Manchester heat-wave.
The first half of the show is a mixed chocolate-box of treats from the new album, Tales From Us. The band open with Run, Annabelle and, my personal favourite, Clay. This last song is Goldfrapp’s homage to a fallen soldier. Stumbling across a letter to his male lover on the website ‘Letters of Note’, the singer’s moving tribute has bottom lips trembling.
There’s little chat from the singer tonight. When she does talk, she’s quick, witty and gracious. But this gig is all business. Music is what matters and Goldfrapp let their tunes do the talking. Their band (keyboards, fiddle, guitars, drums) are tight and play beautifully well together, supporting the singer’s gorgeous tones which lie somewhere between a dream and a whisper.
The encore brings on not only the ‘hits’ from the band’s back catalogue but also the other half of Goldfrapp – musical impresario Will Gregory. Lovely Head, Brown Paper Bag et al are given a euphoric pump with the addition of the live strings and the backing vocals. With the psychedelic light-show that follows, the finale is worth enduring the baking heat.
The showcase for their new album is proof that the band are not quite ready to hang up their electro-pop crown. I’m reminded how much I like Goldfrapp and, this evening, in a small corner of Manchester, I’ve been royally and pleasurably Goldfrapped.
Review by Lucia Cox
What: Goldfrapp at the Manchester International Festival
When: July 18, 2013
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@ianbrown Hi - I'm currently teaching Music Journalism at Salford Uni. Don't spose you have a spare half hour to come in and chat to my students? They are brilliant young people just starting out and are huge fans. - Helen Nugent
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