Slow synths signal the imminent arrival of Alison Goldfrapp – the doyenne of British dance and folktronica.
It's forgivable to ponder whether the ethereal diva would be lowered from the ceiling on a Moulin Rouge-esque swing, or somehow materialise onto the stage as if by magic. But behold, like a mere mortal, she walks! The woman who has influenced almost every female star in the current pop constellation, from Florence to tonight's support act Marina and the Diamonds, strolls from the back of the gramophone speaker-style set, all the way to the front of the stage no less. Goldfrapp (composed of namesake Alison and songwriting partner Will Gregory) have no need for gimmicks.
The whole set up emanates cool, casual power – and Alison hasn't even opened her mouth yet. Leisurely launching into the pounding basslines and signature sexy, playful, otherworldly vocals of "Crystalline Green", it's a measured start for a Goldfrapp and her band, all of whom appear to be in no hurry to impress the already smitten crowd.
However, critics weren't exactly overly enthusiastic about the duo's fifth album Head First, for which this iTunes Festival show acts as a precursor to the record's tour in November. A departure from the pagan themes of 2008's Seventh Tree, the new offering is a fizzy 1980s synth-pop fest now embodied by Alison's onstage costume – a jumper apparently made after a mass slaughter of VHS cassettes for their shiny tape insides. The electronic gurus stand accused of unimaginatively following the market that they inspired – a criticism that on a record filled with love songs that would make a teenager gush, holds weight. On stage however, where there is no hint of fluff or froth, there is no comparison.
The piercing electric violin in the celestial "Dreaming" is closely followed by keytar flourishes for a dancetastic rendition of forthcoming release "Believer". Anthemic single "Rocket" is greeted cheerily by a double whammy of crowd clap and sing-alongs. Despite their regularity, Alison's deep "thank yous" continued to surprise after every high-pitched song.
Even if the sheer quality of each musician's performance backed by simple yet effective songwriting weren't enough to keep the cheesy 1980s pap at bay (for there was and still is rather a lot around), Alison's cold, hard, smokey-eyed stare and dominatrix-style presence is enough to sort the woman from the girls.
Treating the unsuspecting crowd to three encores (the fans who left will kick themselves), the obligatory performance of "Ooh La La" from Supernature fizzed with the same youthful fervour as it's more recent counterparts, and had the crowd holding hands, leaping and crooning as if into a hairbrush at home. Ending on the unbeatable "Strict Machine", the band couldn't control their grins any longer, the way that only those who love what they do can. Goldfrapp proved they are still firmly the leaders in their field, and followers can learn more than a thing or two.Reuse content