Live Review: Goldfrapp @ Symphony Hall – 26/03/2014

“Are you comfortable? Then let us begin.” Goldfrapp open the first night of their current UK tour to the spoken preface to Peter and the Wolf. An introduction to the instrumentation of the orchestra aimed at children, the move is perhaps telling for Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregor, who are tonight backed by a band of four and experimenting themselves in the composition of the live set.

Beginning with Jo, tonight the band play a 90-minute show of two polar halves. The first is a slower more acoustic setup, comprising mainly songs from their most recent sixth record, Tales of Us, for which the tour is really to show off. It’s clearly a new comfort zone to settle into for the disco pop princess frontwoman who asks “Is there something you can take for nerves? Maybe I should start taking drugs, after all, you’re never too old to start.” Drew, Alvar and Annabel flash Goldfrapp’s ability to present stripped back and breathy vocals atop a more folky instrumentation, which includes both a double bass and a mandolin, just as well as their trademark sound. Alison wanders offstage to mark the split in the set. When she returns, You Never Know, Number 1, White Horse and Ooh La plus a plea to stand entice the entirely seated audience to their feet and the band settle into their trademark Euro-disco glam rock blaze.

A lot of thought has clearly gone into tonight’s performance, and it is a performance rather than a band playing their songs live. The lighting is wonderfully atmospheric and care has been taken to balance an almost schizophrenic catalogue of material so that it doesn’t actually feel as disjointed as it looks on paper. At the close, a friendly northern voice chimes up from behind, “we’ve all stood up at the back now Allison!” They’ve completely wowed tonight, stamping in a well-chosen heel their ability not only to maintain but to evolve and morph into whatever they choose, across the current state of music. As relevant now as ever before.

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