I’m starting this week a bit out of focus. Not just mentally, but literally. Plus, it’s Tuesday. So I’m not even at the beginning.
Anyhow, I have a bunch of these old shows that sound really good, but look like big fuzzy, hazy blurs of blown-out light … and sometimes the dark version of that as well. Hence, the defocus … So I keep them around for moments like this, when my mood fits this duality of clarity vs. obscurity.
It’s within this audio/visual milieu that I find Goldfrapp’s wonderfully stirring Hollywood Bowl performance from September of 2017, where they opened for fellow Brits New Order (which you can read about here). Although not a full headliner set, this was still a show I highly anticipated, having never had the opportunity to attend any of their prior live appearances.
I mean, I know some folks who don’t really dig Alison Goldfrapp’s breathy vocals, or keyboardist/composer Will Gregory’s eclectic mix of all-over the map electronic diversity. But I’m into it. And as such, I’d always yearned to see their live performance (or at least hear it, as seeing was seemingly akin to gazing into a floodlight – mostly).
In short, it’s exactly what I hoped it’d be. A solid 45-plus minutes of vibrant, glitzy, shiny raucous upbeat tunes that mixed the classic old with the contemporary new. Backed by a full band, the duo’s set was spirited, thumping and expressive, Alison moving and grooving throughout the stage, searing in and out of visibility amongst the deluge of dense fog and strobing illumination.
Goldfrapp, as band, stuck mainly to the funky dance-oriented disco glam grooves and synth-pop saturnalias, with infectious, glittery oldies like “Oh La La,” “Strict Machine,” and one of my longtime favs, “Ride a White Horse,” as well as some crisp, cool soul-stirring new ones like “Anymore,” “Systemagic,” and one of my new dream-rave favs “Everything is Never Enough.”
And despite the aforementioned light barrage, which I might sound critical of, I actually feel it complements the music perfectly. That probably won’t accurately register in my recordings, which you’ll hear/see below. But on the day, it totally worked at a subconscious, subliminal level, slipping the mind into a meditative hypnosis of transcendental euphoria … or something thereabouts. There’s a lot to be said for overwhelming the senses while serving up the greater goods … which in this case means some great tunes.
Now, I can’t promise that these recordings will reproduce the effect I experienced back in the Fall of ’17. And they’re certainly not going to win any awards for crystal clarity in the visuals department, despite seeming pretty close to how I remember things being back then. But on the plus side, these selections sound mostly fantastic, especially considering their amateur iPhone origins.
There’s 10 tracks in all, divided amongst their two (arguably) most acclaimed releases, “Black Cherry (’03) and “Supernature” (’05), and of course, the latest “Silver Eye” (’17). They actually topped out at 11 songs total in the setlist, but I skipped one, for reasons I can no longer recall.
I will say that I do hope they return to the states, perhaps next year, once the Delta variant has had its way with us. I hear that they’ve got U.K. tour dates scheduled for ’22 to celebrate their ’00 debut LP “Felt Mountain.,” which not coincidentally will be 22 years old by then. Although a deliberately mellower LP, that would certainly be something to hear … and see.
Until such things come to pass, enjoy this mostly comprehensive (and clearly out of focus) selection of Goldfrapp’s Hollywood Bowl opener from 09.18.17. I’ve separated them by album, just because I felt like it. Peace.
From “Black Cherry”
Goldfrapp perform “Train” at the Hollywood Bowl on 09.18.17.
Goldfrapp perform “Strict Machine” at the Hollywood Bowl on 09.18.17.
Goldfrapp perform “Slide In” at the Hollywood Bowl on 09.18.17.
Goldfrapp perform “Ride a White Horse” at the Hollywood Bowl on 09.18.17.
Goldfrapp perform “Ooh La La” at the Hollywood Bowl on 09.18.17.
From “Silver Eye”:
Goldfrapp perform “Anymore” at the Hollywood Bowl on 09.18.17.
Goldfrapp perform “Ocean” at the Hollywood Bowl on 09.18.17.
Goldfrapp perform “Everything is Never Enough” at the Hollywood Bowl on 09.18.17.
Goldfrapp perform “Become the One” at the Hollywood Bowl on 09.18.17.
Goldfrapp perform “Systemagic” at the Hollywood Bowl on 09.18.17.
And the setlist for Goldfrapp’s Hollywood Bowl performance on 09.18.17.