Alison Goldfrapp at The Hall, Aviva Studios, Manchester International Festival
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“This is a bit more pricey than tinfoil
,” said Alison Goldfrapp, responding to a reply from the audience after she asked if anyone else felt hot.
She was referring to her black outfit, sparkling with glitter and sporting no-nonsense shoulder pads. The style was Alexis Carrington as a Berlin nightclub hostess.
Alison Goldfrapp at AvivaStudios Manchester International Festival 2023. Photo by Jody Hartley.
The concert, part of Manchester International Festival (MIF23), opened with a sequence of songs from– The Love Invention
, including Hotel (Suite 23)
, Love Invention
and Digging Deeper Now
. Her new album had not really captivated me after a couple of listens. It worked better live, not least because of the thumping bass which made the hall vibrate from floor to ceiling.
The main difference from previous occasions I had seen Alison Goldfrapp, was how happy she was to chat between the songs. It was as if she slipped from being Marlene Dietrich to a friendly art teacher. This may have been partly to do with the venue. Aviva is where Granada was previously based and so it has the layout of a large TV studio, rather than an arena or high-capacity concert venue such as the Academy, the O2 Apollo or even Bridgewater Hall.
When she was singing, her voice had a sweet but rich quality. It sometimes seemed as though she was whispering – giving an illusion of intimacy, although, in reality, her voice was never overwhelmed by the pulsing beat of the electro power-pop.
She did not include the more ethereal and whimsical side of previous albums. So, there were no songs from Seventh Tree
, Tales of Us
or Felt Mountain
. Instead, it was the disco classics that really got us jumping, at least in the standing area, including Strict Machine
, Number 1
Photo by Jody Hartley.
She was joined on stage by keyboard player Evelyn May, ’wizard’
drummer Seb Sternberg and some lithe dancers - Moses Ward, Belen Leroux and Elisabeth Mulenga. Lizzie Wharton communicated the lyrics of love and longing and riding white horses in Sign Language, which made me wish I understood it better.
MIF events often take the form of collaborations, especially unexpected ones. This one went in the other direction as Alison Goldfrapp appeared very much in her own right – rather than as Goldfrapp, with her lower profile but genius musical partner – Will Gregory.
It did not have the unique quality of other MIF events – The Love Invention
was not a MIF commission. It was a conventional set-up where an artist mixes their new songs with old classics.
But it was still hugely infectious and enjoyable. The concert ended with Fever
, another one from The Love Invention
. It contains the line We dance alone
. There may be a philosophical truth to that but, on the night itself, The Aviva diva led us on a merry dance for the seventeen songs and 90 minutes of the performance.
Alison Goldfrapp Manchester International Festival
14 July 2023
The Hall Aviva Studios, Water Street, Manchester M3 4JQ
For more information on MIF23 see their website.
Alison Goldfrapp. Photo by Mat Maitland.
222420 - 2023-07-10 20:35:20