Patrick Widdess reports on Goldfrapp at Cambridge Corn Exchange, 23 Oct 2008


Goldfrapp have been going almost ten years now with an electro-pop sound characterised by Alison Goldfrapp's dynamic vocal range. The quirky sound of their early records did not show much potential for chart domination but the electroclash sound on later albums brought a string of hits worldwide. A sellout crowd turned out on a wet Thursday night to hear the group perform such hits as A&E, Happiness and Ooh La La.

The band enter in white uniforms with Alison in a pink silk night gown drawing a chorus of wolf whistles. Things open gently with one of their early songs, Paper Bag and continue in flawless fashion with Alison's voice soaring effortlessly around the hall. The group plough through a selection of more recent songs each one performed to perfection almost to the point of being sterile. There is little interaction with the audience and much of the show has the feel of a party where no one's talking to each other. It is recent hit Happiness that finally breaks the ice. The combination of playful pop melodies, 10-foot French fancies projected on the back drop and Alison strutting back and forth chanting the cheery, frivolous lyrics warms the heart and some of the more energetic fans start pogoing. This is followed by electroclash smash hit Ooh La La. As Alison looks across the crowd punching the air she could be Kylie or Madonna. She is a worthy contender for the queen of pop crown. Her distinctive vocals and original songs have conquered the American market, earned worldwide acclaim including a Grammy nomination, and with four albums under her belt there is plenty to keep the crowd satisfied.

I enjoyed the foot-stomping dance numbers as much as anyone but I remain a fan of the delicate dreaminess of debut album Felt Mountain. It was disappointing that after opening with the hauntingly beautiful Paper Bag they neglected to play other standout tracks such as Lovely Head or Utopia. Felt Mountain may not have enjoyed the commercial success of their later albums but it was a distinctive, intelligent debut and without its widespread critical acclaim their later work may not have found a receptive audience.

The band do not fail to deliver the songs that made them famous and whilst their early material is thin on the ground their latest album, Seventh Tree, shows they have not lost touch with their gentle, quirky side making them worthy forerunners in the UK music scene.

Writer: Patrick Widdess