Alison Goldfrapp: Manchester Academy – Live Review

Alison Goldfrapp
Manchester Academy
Friday 23rd February 2024

Under the soft glow of pastel-hued stage lights, anticipation brims between buzzing bodies as Alison Goldfrapp prepares to perform her latest debut solo album, The Love Reinvention, for audiences at the Manchester Academy.

From devoted longtime supporters of Goldfrapp (the band) to curious newcomers exploring her new solo material, all eyes in the crowd are drawn to her as she radiates from above in a devilishly sleek, all-black ensemble. Her outfit, adorned with black diamantes and padded shoulders, perfectly complements her moonlight-silver hair, forming a striking image that commands everyone’s attention. She’s dressed to kill, channelling the essence of a modern sophisti-pop Cruella De Vil. The dreamy camp aesthetics of the backdrop, her dancers and backing singers perfectly blend with the queer infectious club beats and pulsing house rhythms found on The Love Reinvention.

Goldfrapp is mainly known for the moody, sultry electronica of the duo (named after her surname) with Will Gregory. However, her latest solo album leaves most of the slinky seduction behind and thrives in a newfound upbeat, synth-pop dance world. It makes sense that this is the new direction. Goldfrapp (the band) always had a touch of sexy, horny, devilish and dirty, however, that was always drawn from a more glam-rock and new-wave board of inspiration. The Love Invention embraces a true divine feminine and takes it way back in sound with its roots in club culture. The resurgence of the 00s club music in modern pop is everywhere at the moment, with artists of a previous generation like Kylie Minogue, Róisín Murphy and Sophie Ellis-Bextor all reclaiming their place in the charts.

Alison Goldfrapp - Manchester Academy 23/02/24 © Melanie SmithKylie Minogue recently scored her first No. 1 in a decade with the euphoric dance – summer anthem, Padam Padam, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Murder On The Dancefloor is going crazy viral on TikTok with millennials (Thanks, Barry Keoghan) and Róisín Murphy has been dominating festival stages all around the world with Hit Parade, her latest soulful pop-techno album and collaboration with DJ Koze.

So, positioned within this movement of musicians and vocalists buddying up with DJs and producers connecting with new audiences, The Love Reinvention, produced by Richard X (Erasure, Róisín Murphy) and James Greenwood (Daniel Avery, Kelly Lee Owens) is another record aligning itself with the second wave of female pop singers revitalising the essence of dance music. And, it deserves its place right next to all the artists mentioned above.

The set begins with In Electric Blue, a hazy dreamscape fast-paced love ballad, and Love Invention, a sultry tune coated in disco delirium. Love Invention plays like an undiscovered quintessential Goldfrapp B-side, with its modulated vocals and new-wave bass line. It’s cool to observe how the echoes of her previous material in Goldfrapp still lingers within the layers of her performance, a warming sentiment furthered by a few more Goldfrapp songs in the setlist.

Alison Goldfrapp - Photographer Melanie SmithBeliever, from Goldfrapp’s 2010 album, and Number 1, from Supernature, are the songs that really get the crowd singing and dancing. Number 1 unfolds in its dreamy synth-pop glory, serving as a perfect love ballad live and evoking the new-wave romanticism reminiscent of Yazoo but with that gritty, raw edge that Alison Goldfrapp does so damn well. She always oozes sensuality, but tonight, her performance of Impossible by Norwegian duo Röyksopp, stands out as the highlight of the evening.

The brooding, stabbing synth and atmospheric soundscape transition the performance from high-bpm rainbows to sensuous grittiness, adding a particular depth and intensity at just the right point in the evening to bring it back down. That’s one of the remarkable aspects of Alison Goldfrapp and her discography. Over the years, she’s thrown herself into so many different projects, that it’s clear to see from her performance this evening, how effortlessly she can navigate through the back catalogue, lifting inspirations from so much. She transcends so highly between her own new material, the collaboration with Röyksopp, and older Goldfrapp songs and it reminds me just how underrated I think she is as a singer in British music. In her rendition of Impossible live, her voice resonates much like Elizabeth Fraser in Angel by Massive Attack— distinctive in its own right, yet perfectly complementing the work of another artist. Goldfrapp working with Röyksopp is a collaboration long overdue.

Evelyn May Alison Goldfrapp band - Photographer Melanie SmithThe fan-favourite Goldfrapp single, Ooh La La, creates a fun audience sing-along response that I couldn’t resist joining in with, and she finishes on an unbelievable high with Fever (This Is the Real Thing). The finale reaches its peak, a pulsating disco-house track brimming with arpeggiated synths and irresistible grooves. The chorus sparkles with its Balearic production, a testament to the exceptional work of James Greenwood, Richard X and Alison Goldfrapp on their collaboration for The Love Reinvention. The album is incredible, but Goldfrapp’s performance of it live takes it to the next level.

Please note: Use of these images in any form without permission is illegal. If you wish to contact the photographer please email: mel@mudkissphotography.co.uk

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You can find Alison Goldfrapp on her website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Words by Amelia Fearon – a creative music writer based in Manchester. You can see more of her work at her author profile | writing portfolio here | Instagram | X

All photos by Melanie Smith – Louder Than War | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Portfolio

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