As a birthday present for my best friend I got tickets for Goldfrapp’s concert at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, whom we’re both big fans of.
I have to express an interest straightaway – me and my friend were both in the same year at college with Alison, and while I was never really a close friend of hers I have a link to her nonetheless which undoubtedly biases my opinions. I suppose I could easily be quite jealous of her success, but I’m actually really pleased for her – and I like her music, so that’s a bonus.
I get the impression that Cambridge is bit of a backwater on the concert circuit, I think there are a number of other places nearby that could provide alternative and potentially better venues, so I think it’s quite rare for a relatively big name such as Alison to come here. But apparently she’s been here on a previous tour, so perhaps there’s some kind of sentimental link. I’m sure there must also be good economic reasons.
So perhaps unsurprisingly it was a very popular show and I was only able to get seats at the very back of the balcony. And I was only able to get those from a third-party agency as the box-office had sold out, but I figured it was better to go with mediocre seats than to miss the show.
For me the standout aspect of the concert was the quality of the lighting system, producing intense stabs of bright, pure colours and intense white highlights. This was an adaptable system that produced many varied and extremely effective results. One song had strong white top-down spots illuminating the stage, bleaching out the colours, Alison’s top being the only colour – an effect you would expect to see on TV as the result of digital manipulation – this felt very unreal to be seeing in real life.
Alison’s costume was a black body and trousers offset by a loose pink/red pleated top that really stood out as the highlight of the stage. Fans (of the electric kind) placed in front of her blew her top and hair around, in a kind of disco/romantic way.
An oddity in the lighting department were two people with spotlights hanging from the ceiling rig who tested their lights before the show but never turned them on throughout the whole show. One of them was dancing around in his seat for most of the gig. Strangely redundant.
The sound was very bassy, from which the support act – The Shortwave Set – suffered most, their vocals being almost indistinguishable. This was possibly due to our seats being very near the back of the hall (UU23 and 24, only five more rows to the back of the building) – possibly if we had been able to get down into the crowd the sound would have been better. During one quiet song I also realised that the audience was making a hell of a lot of noise, there was an incredible amount of talking going on, not certain if it was from the balcony or the floor. I was constantly distracted by people coming and going and talking. There seemed to be little respect for the show going on.
It was a shame that Goldfrapp didn’t play my favourite song, ‘Pilots’, although there was a good mix of tracks from all the albums otherwise.
The only real musical downside of the evening were The Shortwave Set, who replaced Hot Chip as the support act. They were dull but capable musicians. I found myself feeling very drowsy during their set which may have been down to the cocktails I’d had beforehand, but I think it’s revealing (probably more about my taste in music, admittedly) that they were unable to keep my attention whereas for Goldfrapp I was completely enthralled.
I really love Goldfrapp’s music. My favorite material is from the first two albums, but even the tracks I was less than keen on were enjoyable to hear in this context. This was a great concert and I’d definitely recommend them to anyone.