“Erm… hello. So this is… erm… a dress rehearsal. If anything untoward happens, we may stop.”
Some might think that Alison Goldfrapp’s introduction to the ‘friends only warm up show’ at the Union Chapel last night was a little bit insipid. And, to be fair, they would be right. The crowd looked mostly bemused as the large group of performers that is Goldfrapp traipsed onto the stage in the amazing Victorian gothic church in Islington last night, although they did manage a polite round of applause as Alison made her appearance.
Still, this was not a normal gig for the ethereal-cum-electro-glam band. This was an exclusive preview (or ‘dress rehearsal’ as Alison insisted on calling it throughout the gig) of Goldfrapp’s forthcoming tour, which kicks off in earnest tonight (also at the Union Chapel), for just a couple of hundred lucky (or well-connected) people.
This Londonista had never visited the Union Chapel before, and we were impressed – almost overwhelmed – at what a beautiful and atmospheric venue it is. And it is a venue that works superbly for a band like Goldfrapp – the church’s acoustics were superb, complementing the band’s note-perfect performance brilliantly. We have rarely been to a gig that sounded this good.
Alison herself seemed less impressed by the venue – apologising that they couldn’t be as loud as they wanted to be, because “it’s a church, so we have to keep the fucking noise down.” She was lucky – no divine lightning bolt castigated her for her sweariness – and the gig sounded quite loud enough to our ears anyway.
And the performance? Pretty damned good. With their distinctive combination of soaring synths and strings, meaty bass and (of course) trademark breathy vocals, Goldfrapp seem to be at the top of their game – to our ears they didn’t put a foot wrong (even when a fire alarm went off in the middle of their second song). Couple this with some striking visual projection effects, and you’ve got a show to remember.
Unsurprisingly, tonight’s tour kick-off at the Union Chapel is sold out. But if you can beg, borrow or purloin a ticket for a reasonable amount, then you should do so.