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Goldfrapp at the Paradise

Much thanks to nessus for giving me his extra ticket for the Goldfrapp show on Saturday night. It was most definitely a fufilling musical experience.

I wanted to get to the Paradise around 9:30, but parking was a nightmare (the block east of the Paradise lost its parking due to the construction of a new part of the BU empire, I presume). I ended having to park about three blocks west of that, at the Super 88, but that turned out to be a happy accident. Their food court was open, so I picked up a Vietnamese ice coffee at one of the booths. From there I walked over the Paradise, and, while waiting for Doug to show up, struck up a pleasant conversation with a young Irishmen who was out for a smoke, and I guess the opening band wasn't that exciting for him.

Once inside, we were amused at all the early-80s music that they were playing before Goldfrapp's set — Gang of Four, Joy Division, and, just to mix things up a little, Moby's cover of Mission of Burma's “That's When I Reach for Revolver.” Well, you could do worse.

Then Goldfrapp came on. The band consisted of a bass player, keyboardist, violinist/keyboardist, and drummer/violist. Their arrangements, especially for the songs from Felt Mountain, the first album, are pretty involved, but nearly everything was played live. I was wondering if the drummer was Will Gregory, the other half of the duo, but it turns out he wasn't there ! (If you poke around the electronic press kit for the new album, it also appear they've got a larger touring band for Europe.) Nevertheless, they sounded great, but Allison Goldfrapp's singing ability is really the best thing about experiencing this music live. From shiny, sleazy disco pop to ballads fit for Shirley Bassey to eerie pyschodrama, she is utterly convincing. We were only about six rows back, and you could tell she could really project, and over a wide range to boot. There are some vocal performances on the records that are pretty hard to beleive, like the quasi-operatic introduction to “Utopia,” and she pulled them off with aplomb.

And while I think the new album, Black Cherry, doesn't have the majesty and sheer mastery of their debut, the songs came off much better live. It's odd: despite the synthpop sheen of Black Cherry, most of the songs grew out of jamming in the studio, not sequencing, but it still feels kind of choppy. But live, the addition of sweat and movement really turned up the intensity of the feeling in the songs.

As a studio-oriented act with only two albums of material, Goldfrapp played most of the songs, and (as usual) the Boston crowd made them do two encores, during one of which Allison Goldfrapp played a mini-theremin in a rather eyebrowsing-raising way. It was very rock-and-roll, but without guitars.

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