May 12th, 2006

May concert: "won-der-ful e-lec-tric" (Goldfrapp at the Showbox)

Yesterday, I went to see Goldfrapp at the Showbox. The band is the duo of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory; they appeared with three additional musicians, for a lineup including keyboards, electronic violin / keyboards / guitar, bass, drums, and Alison's amazing vocals. Here I have to admit that I don't actually know what Will Gregory looks like, and there don't seem to be many photos of him readily findable online - certainly the Goldfrapp site itself is lacking in photos. So while I believe he was the violinist/keyboardist/guitarist, I don't actually know. But that's almost beside the point, as Alison is very much the focal point of her namesake band, for the very good reason that she's quite pretty and exudes sexiness.

However, I didn't go merely to ogle Goldfrapp, I went for the excellent music, and I was not disappointed. Drawing upon glam rock, some new wave, disco, and more modern electronica, Goldfrapp play sultry electric dance rock, with the occasional ballad or more ethereal song. Alison usually sings in a cool breathy style, but when she pulls out the stops, she has a powerful voice capable of a wide range and full sound. I did notice, though, that the songs featuring her singing loud and sustained notes were all done at the beginning of the set, perhaps to make sure she wouldn't be too tired to carry the notes. Still, she showed no lack of energy and her voice never wavered.

Alison has a very theatrical style to her performance, seeming cool and aloof early in the set, but by the end rousing the crowd to wave arms and clap hands. Even at the beginning though, she'd occasionally crack a delighted smile that showed how much fun she was having. They also made good use of lighting, including strobes and banks of white lights that would flash blindingly into the audience by the end. The whole show was very much a rock spectacle, the sort I really haven't seen in a long time, and Alison is a total rock star.

I actually don't yet own any Goldfrapp albums, though I've had their second album, Black Cherry, written in my list of things to buy pretty much since it came out in 2003. So a lot of the music was new to me, which makes it difficult to comment more on that. However, I do know they played most if not all the hit singles, including "Ooh La La" and "Ride A White Horse" from their current album Supernature, and "Train" and "Black Cherry" from the previous album. I was happy that their final song was "Strict Machine" from Black Cherry, as it's the song that first made me take notice of the band and write them down in that list, and the performance seemed to me to capture the spirit of Goldfrapp. As the song's lyrics repeat: wonderful electric.

Usually I write about shows in the order that the bands appear, saving the headliner for last. This is partly to reproduce the show experience, and partly to highlight the lesser-known opening acts, who often both deserve and need the attention. In this case however, the opening act wasn't a band, it was DJ Darek Mazzone from KEXP. I liked his mix at first, but as it got closer to showtime he played more tracks featuring obnoxiously loud foreign-language rapping, and lost my interest. Also, he wasn't spinning onstage, so there wasn't any kind of show to watch while listening to his set. I was at the show by myself, and I found that two hours was just too long to stand around in the increasingly crowded floor space with no one to talk to, nothing to watch, listening to a set I enjoyed less as it went on. Fortunately, Goldfrapp proved more than worth the wait.

Back in March I mentioned that Joe Jackson is playing the Moore Theatre in June, on Tuesday the 20th. At first I expected to go to the show, but prices at the Moore are on the expensive side for me: seats are $28 in the balcony and $38 on the floor, and service charges add nearly $10 on top of those prices. Also, he's on tour just with two of his original band members, Graham Maby and Dave Houghton; while they're great and he always puts on a great show, the last time he came to town it was with his full original band (including Gary Sanford as well), and I feel as though this won't be much different. So I've decided I'll just have to let this show pass, and pick something else for June.