With album anniversary tours becoming a popular live music staple, last night saw it to be electro-pop outfit, Goldfrapp’s turn to celebrate the 20-year milestone of their iconic debut album, Felt Mountain – albeit two years overdue as a result of Covid’s repeated interferences. Though with delays setting back this anniversary tour, it may have been more appropriate to be touring the same anniversary of second album, Black Cherry.
There are certain shows that concert goers will always remember more than others. Shows that really stand out for production, the iconic venue, showmanship, set list or any other reason. Madonna’s Confessions tour. The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over tour. Texas at the Royal Albert Hall. Tori Amos at the Sydney Opera House. Those are just a few that spring to mind personally. And now I can add Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain anniversary tour to that list.
I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard Goldfrapp fan. Before this show I had listed to Felt Mountain maybe 2 or 3 times. I tend to sway more towards the mainstream Goldfrapp sounds that they dipped their toe in with albums like Head First and Supernature, so going into this show was always going to feel more foreign to me than familiar. Having seen the outfit perform at Brixton Academy a few years back following the release of 2018’s Silver Eye, I knew the show was going to be something quite special and we were definitely not let down.
The set was obviously aimed towards their 2000 debut with all tracks from that album showing face at some point or another during the main section of the nights set. Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall played host to the electronic hitmakers for two consecutive nights where the crowd was hung in an almost hypnotic state from start to end; particularly during the first half or the show where the set was kept on a relatively somber note. But somber should never be misinterpreted as boring when it comes to Goldfrapp. While slow, we were treated to album numbers including the album title track, the gorgeous, syrupy Paper Bag, with its eerie steel string guitar pickings, and Pilots where her backing band helped frontwoman Alison Goldfrapp reintroduce one of synthpop’s finest masterpieces; a backing string quartet helping to lift each number into cinematic territory; complete with as much drama as a 30 piece orchestra, especially on numbers like Human with its grinding synths and bond like theme that played out around a stage filled with glowing orange beams.
Describing Moon In Your Mouth as an “ode to life, desire and anyone who has left this world too soon”, Alison described the track as her favourite from the more recently released Silver Eye record while the violin outro of the following You Never Know from Supernature left us breathless and on the edge of our seats; the production really unlike any other show we have attended with each member of her band remaining sharply focused on delivering the very best from their instrument while Alison delivered her distinctly breathy vocals to her repertoire; at times swinging from operatic songbird to chilling storyteller through the help of a second microphone that would dress her vocals in a range of effects to compliment the specific track being performed – tracks like Deer Stop that would take us back to the days of Portishead; Alison’s vocals as crisp and pronounced as ever.
Outside of the Felt Mountain numbers, the crowd was treated to a small, carefully garnished plate of some of the bands more well-known singles that transformed the mostly dark and subdued set into a full throttle club inspired closing with Supernature’s Ride A White Horse and Black Cherry’s Strict Machine getting the crowd up on their feet and dancing along with the superstars; beams of light shooting around the venue, multi-colored beams glowing and dozens of bulbous lights positioned on the stage floor around the band lighting up to the beats being projected out to the crowd.
Closing the final night of the Felt Mountain tour the band offered us another Black Cherry notable, Train, perhaps paying tribute to the fact that the albums milestone birthday was also being celebrated. With her keyboardist, Hazel leaving her station and strapping on a keytar, the 80’s seemed in full display as the venue reverberated with the tracks pulsating synths and Alison prowling the stage in her black leggings and shiny black jacket with sharp shoulders; looking every bit the electo-pop queen.
This will forever be a show that we will remember for so many reasons. And having personally seen well over 400 shows in my years, it really is quite the testament to what this band delivers in live sets. The setlist, the production, the vocals, the light-show, the hits – Goldfrapp are the complete live package!
Road to Somewhere
Moon in Your Mouth
You Never Know
Ride a White Horse
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