(Published on ARTSCLASH)
The Trinity Centre is a strange (but wonderful) place to be. An abandoned church on the outskirts of Bristol City Centre, inside it has been stripped out to make a fully fledged electric gig space. In a way, then, this venue is the ideal choice for the comeback gig of Goldfrapp, who like the Trinity have carved a career out of combining folky pastoral Englishness with a sexy electro heart. And my God was it good to see them back.
This gig was a warm-up for their upcoming Manchester International Festival shows, where they will be playing their upcoming album, Tales of Us in full. So what does this new album sound like? Well, they didn’t play any of it last night, but judging by the gig it could finally be the really dark Goldfrapp album we’ve been waiting for, with the band taking songs such as the light as air Little Bird and ending it with heavy jamming, playing guitars with what looked like screwdrivers – essentially, what was once a magpie suddenly came out dressed as a vulture. This blackness also haunted Ride A White Horse, which came out on the night as a stunning combination of pioneering electro legends the D.A.F. (who let us not forget wrote a song that featured the chorus ‘DANCE MUSSOLINI/DANCE ADOLF HITLER’) and early Depeche Mode, especially in its unexpected breakdown. So if this gig’s anything to go by, Tales of Us could well be, quite excitingly, a bit post-punk. Though of course it would be stupid to second-guess the Frapp, a band that in the space of one albums went from mystic spacewhore…
…to folky druid harlequins.
In fact, it was these two albums (Supernature and Seventh Tree) that dominated the setlist, a great sign that the band is ready to move on from their disappointing last album and get back to the business of sexy future space paganry and glitter horsing. This really showed in the gig, with the band far fresher than when I saw them on the Head First tour, with Alison Goldfrapp making a pretty good bid for the best frontwoman working today, turning effortlessly from chanteuse (You Never Know, Eat Yourself) to psycho-opera (a stunning Utopia) to raw sex swagger of their finest songs, Ooh La La, Train and Strict Machine. This, and the fact that they played a set presumably made up of their personal favourites (a lot of album tracks made a superfan’s dream setlist), suggests that whatever Tales of Us has in store for us, this preview shows us that it’s being delivered by a band back at the top of their game – I’d buy up all the horse glitter you can in preparation.
You Never Know
Shiny and Warm
Ride A White Horse
Ooh La La