The Record Music Magazine Win Tickets to See Boom!
A favourite game of mine, whenever I pass the Brixton Academy, is to check out the line of people snaking round the block and try to guess, by their dress, who they are queuing up to see. Some are easier than others, of course. Skater punks, hip-hop fans and heavy metal revivalists are instantly identifiable by their uniforms. Tonight's crowd, on the other hand, are impossible: men and women (more men than women), mostly white, in their 20s, 30s and even 40s, dressed in their second best jeans and T shirts; the kind of people you can see in any pub in the country, any night of the week. I can only describe them as extremely ordinary looking.

Inside, the people on stage are anything but. Flanked by the glam-rock musicians, and several pulsating strips of blinding light, are four fantastic-looking dancing girls. Their moves ~ whether robotic or tongue-in-cheek sexy ~ are cleverly choreographed to match the tone of each song. Their costume changes ~ from bikinis to space-age body suits to metallic horses' heads ~ are increasingly bizarre. Their look, whether standing still, moving together like synchronised swimmers, or weaving their own paths between the incongruously rock-posturing band, is supercool.

Standing at the centre of all this, looking even cooler in black body suit and pink shawl, her trademark hair fluttering in the breeze of the wind machine, is Alison Goldfrapp herself. She gestures minimally. Her shawl shimmers suitably. She sings beautifully, of course. We know that. That's why we're here. It's a good job we know it, because tonight the Goldfrapp voice is too often lost in the mix, buried under the rumble of bass, drums and pounding synthesizers.

Live on stage, the music seems to have lost its operatic quality, its ability to swoosh from the ethereal to the melodramatic. At its best, Goldfrapp's music has a retro-futuristic edge: the theme music for an imaginary remake of Barbarella by Fellini. Tonight's offering, with its driving synth rhythms, sounds more like a homage to Kraftwerk, Yello, and Eurodisco acts like Donna Summer.

The band add to the '70s feel by striking rockstar poses with their guitars ~ one of them even has one of those keyboard thingies made in the shape of a guitar. They look as parodic as the dancing girls, except they don't appear to be in on the joke.

The crowd love it, anyway. The place is packed, hot and sweaty. There's hardly room to move, let alone dance, though some try. Most just stand and drink, taking in the sights and sounds on stage, cheering familiar songs, and holding up their phones.

You can read the rest of our feature on Goldfrapp in the October 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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