Friday 10 February 2006

Glitz, Glam and Sparkle!

Goldfrapp – Carling Academy, Newcastle
Sat 15th October
Review by Matt Burrows,
Blinded by Sound – Music and Audio Production -

The new Carling Academy in Newcastle opened its doors on Friday to a sell out show by local heroes The Futureheads and on the following night I went to see the highly anticipated also sell out show by Goldfrapp.

From the moment I entered the ‘spangly new’ venue I was impressed and I knew it would be a great place for Newcastle and the North East by providing a place where bands can play in a more intimate (capacity 2000) venue than the town’s Metro Arena. The venue’s popularity has already been proved by many shows being sold out into 2006.

The show started with a slightly odd looking support band who didn’t really make much impression, playing a vaguely interesting fusion of breakbeat, electronics and folk. The band was fronted by someone resembling a lovechild of Mike Flowers and Karen Carpenter. The acoustic guitar playing frontman also managed to mumble when announcing the name of the band, I later discovered they were ‘Shortwave Set’.

On to the main act.
From being introduced to the sounds of Goldfrapp by a friend in early 2004 to seeing them deliver a stunning performance to a huge Glastonbury crowd I had an appetite for more.

Due to a 10pm curfew (no idea why) Goldfrapp graced the spangly new stage at 8.15 opening with the classic although slightly unexpected ‘Utopia’. Miss Goldfrapp as always looked Sultry and striking sporting eye-catching glittering eye makeup which supported her slightly ‘different’ but alluring look.

From the start the show captivated the audience and the crowd began dancing on the spot, some vigorously than others. For a band that is becoming largely known as electro-pop, the cross-section of the audience was unexpected, ranging from ages 16 to 65, and they all seemed to love it! By the time the second track ‘Train’ pumped out the crowd were in full swing!

As the show continued it was clear to see that since their atmospheric debut in 2000 with Felt Mountain, through Black Cherry up to the recent release of Supernature, Goldfrapp have metamorphosised and honed their craft combining superb production by the Innovative Will Gregory with the mesmerising and voluptuous vocals of Alison Goldfrapp. The result is a fine mix of electronically chilled ambience, travelling vocals and downright STOMP. Although the live show lacks the presence of Gregory, the performance is supported by great strutting musicians creating a solid groove.

The crowd cheered enormously during the opening notes of recent hit and disco anthem Ooh La La, and as the band delivered the T-Rex inspired sounds the audience boogied in full support.

Other crowd pleasers included the fantastic Strict Machine, the current hit “Number 1” and closer “Black Cherry”.

Although it was a great gig in a great venue, I can’t help feeling it could have been better in a few ways: I really wish that there was more interaction with the audience as it makes them feel more involved, although Alison’s few comments on leaving the stage did admit "Thank you. Thank you so much........I know, I don't say much, do I" and laughed. I suppose the lack of inter-song conversation adds to the intrigue that makes Goldfrapp what they uniquely are.

On reading reviews of other gigs during their tour there are mentions of dancing girls wearing horse’s heads (similar to the ooh la la video). Unfortunately the dancing girls were nowhere to be seen in Newcastle (certainly not in the Academy anyway).

I was also surprised to see that a live CD of the gig was available to buy 10 mins after the band left stage.

Goldfrapp are one of my favourite bands and in a time where the music industry values “real music”, you could quite easily trade the dross of the likes of Rachel Stevens and gain so much more in Goldfrapp. I suppose they could be described as electro-pop for the discerning disco lover. If you want a great album you would be hard pushed to decide which is better out of their last two offerings Black Cherry and Supernature, so make it easy on yourself and buy both!

This week, the bdaily team have been mostly dressing as Nuns.

County Durham born Graeme Danby is Principal Bass with English National Opera (ENO), where his recent roles have included: Sarastro (Magic Flute), Don Basilio (Barber of Seville), Doctor Grenvil (La Traviate) and Sergeant of Police (Pirates of Penzance) to name but a few. more >