Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Goldfrapp @ Irving Plaza

Utopia//Lovely Head//Tip Toe//Train//Koko//Slide//Never Know//Deer Stop//Fly Me//Satin Chic//Beautiful//White Horse//OOh La La
Black Cherry//Number One
Strict Machine

I've been to a lot of rock shows, but I've never seen any electronic pop groups perform live. It's tougher to do a show where much of your sound comes from electronic elements, it can be tougher to reproduce the elements that make the record great. Goldfrapp proved that it is possible to make do electronic keyboard based music live and make it great. This was a really cool show, one I'm really glad I got to see.

First off, the crowd here was really into it. When she first came out on stage, there were huge applause and after every showy moment there was a major crowd reaction. This reaction was one of the most enthusiastic I've ever seen, and Alison seemed to really be enjoying it. During the breaks between encores, the crowd was really emphatic in demanding a bit more show.

The show started off with two songs off of Felt Mountain. I figured that the dance/glam stuff off of the later albums would play better live, but those first two songs were the highlight of the show for me. Alison's vocal range was ridiculous, going off into this siren-like high pitched wail on 'Lovely Head,' augmented by the theremin and vocal distortion. I think they placed these two songs first because they were so vocally demanding, it would be difficult to hit those notes at the end of the show. The band backing her was a mix of keyboard, violin and guitar, and they turned the ethereal whispher of Utopia into a heavy stomp, completely remaking the song into something that worked as a rocking live number. If you hear the songs on record, they don't sound like they'd translate well live, but she totally disproved that here.

I think some of my enjoyment of the show was hindered by the fact that I didn't get a good spot until near the end. I got there ten minutes before the show started, and was really happy not to have to wait. But, the problem is I wasn't up in the front, where the really intense fans are. It's a hassle to have to wait, but the shows where I'm in the front, like at Phoenix last week are much more enjoyable. There, you get immersed in the performance, rather than struggling to see over the crowd. So, in the future I'm going to try to get there a bit earlier and get a good spot before the show starts.

Anyway, my issues aside, she kept up a really high energy level throughout the show. Train was an early highlight, the first of her dance songs to get played, and also notable for her theremin solo, a theremin that she got very comfortable with. Train also saw the first appearance of her masked dancers. They were quite odd looking, and worked well to augment the songs. Visually, the show was fantastic. The lights helped build the song's mood and the band's glam rock attire helped build the mood. I believe it was Will Gregory playing keyboards on the left in a full on Velvet Goldmine outfit and makeup.

The closing run of songs was all fantastic. After the heights of 'Utopia' and 'Lonely Head,' there was a bit of a break, but things came back at the end with the fantastic, driving 'Satin Chic,' and then her two big disco songs off of Supernature, 'Ooh La La' and 'Ride a White Horse.' I was surprised to see those two back to back since they're similar songs, and one of them could have probably gone over better during the middle of the show. But, it did have the effect of building great momentum for the finale, and into the encores.

'Number One' is my favorite song of theirs, and it worked really well live. 'Black Cherry' was a return to the feel of 'Utopia,' and was quite good. 'Strict Machine' was a fantastic finale, with Alison marching and saluting.

So, a really good show. I wasn't sure how they'd convert their stuff to live performance, but it went over seamlessly, and quite a few of the songs were even better live than on the record. I would love to see them again, this was a "Special" show, so hopefully they'll do another round through New York promoting this album. And next time play 'Lovely 2 C U,' that's the only song I was missing.

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Anonymous said...

Next time try the balcony...i had as great a view as the VIP section upstairs, with minimal crowding! Managed to lock eyes with Alison couple of times due to high visibilty.

Also, FYI, Will was in the soundbooth
twiddling the knobs for the band's effects. The dude @the synth was Davide.

Anyway, nice review of a great show that I still can't get outta my head!

Patrick said...

I was tempted to go upstairs but I usually feel like you're more in the show down on the floor. But, I have to say in this case, you probably made the right choice, it was just too crowded to get anywhere near. I don't think I've ever seen such a dense crowd at Irving.

And yeah, it was a really great show, I've heard she's coming around again in the Fall, hopefully it'll happen.

Anonymous said...

"Ooh La La" was phenomenal, even considering the fact that I had to keep closing my eyes against the klieg lights. That 3 1/2 minutes was one of my favorite concert-going experiences, ever.