Tag Archives: Goldfrapp

Goldfrapp, Royal Albert Hall, London, 18th November, 2014

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The diminutive Alison Goldfrapp surrounded by the impressive London Contemporary Orchestra in the majestic setting of the cavernous Royal Albert Hall looked uncertain, somehow frail and nervous – displaced perhaps, like some Hollywood star brought back to life in the shaft of light that bathed her. She looked a bit like Marlene Dietrich. Staring out into the crowd,  she admitted she was nervous, it showed a charming vulnerability.

She is a true chameleon, you’re never sure what Alison Goldfrapp you will see. She displays the whole gamut of innocent childlike naivety, angelic otherworldliness, then she’s the sweet seductress, a screaming siren and a whirling dervish. In whatever form, her tiny frame with its powerhouse voice totally commands and captivates.

I’ve seen Goldfrapp many times and I imagine them to be sound perfectionists, every gig is note perfect, and this one was no different, apart from the feeling of occasion. While it may not be a “Last Hurrah” – it had the makings of one. Everything was pulled in, an orchestra, an amazing band, at one point the Lips Choir – made up of 54 female voices, and a special guest appearance by John Grant. Alison Goldfrapp and Grant proved an impressive double act as they sang the Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra hit One Velvet Morning, with Alison’s girly teasing a perfect foil for Grant’s deep throat masculinity.

The bulk of the night was a play through of latest album Tales of Us. The album is a departure from their electro-disco pop and very much a return to the vibe of Felt Mountain. So additional older songs such as Utopia fitted seamlessly into the set list. The carefully crafted and haunting songs of Tales of Us lent itself easily to the wonderful strings and arrangements of the orchestra.

Stranger is particularly beautiful. It’s a song to lose yourself in as you can feel the harmonies swirling around you, but watch the video which accompanies it and it’s a macabre and twisted contradiction.

It’s also begging to be used in a James Bond soundtrack. Goldfrapp should be creating movie soundtracks with their ease for crafting vast sweeping cinematic landscapes.

There were special programmes on the night, only 500 were made and each one was hand-stitched. They were numbered and signed by Alison and Will Gregory.

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Goldfrapp

The nerves, although apparent at the beginning of the night, soon subsided, and Alison need not have worried. The audience were in the palm of her tiny hand and this was a truly memorable gig that captivated from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

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A Farewell to T in the Park – Balado

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As the 21st T in the park drew to a close in July and said a final farewell to Balado, I was watching Calvin Harris from the comfort of my sofa and thinking about previous years.

At the Sunday Mail I was part of a team that covered T in the Park from 2001 to 2011. It’s Scotland’s biggest music festival and it was treated with respect. Our Editor wanted every band on every stage covered, no mean feat, especially as over the years T in the Park has grown exponentially.

The team was headed up by Sunday Mail Showbiz Editor Billy Sloan and one year the T in the Park coverage got off to a sticky start. I believe it was 2007. There had been huge traffic problems and when Billy and Sunday Mail Showbiz Writer Steve Hendry eventually arrived at Balado, some hours late, the ground was muddy, their car got stuck and they were going nowhere. Then in true Laurel & Hardy fashion, they got out to push, the wheels started spinning and they were covered from head to toe in dirt … And that was just the start of the weekend …

The press tent was often a bit of a tight squeeze as people sat close together and photographers always brought lots of gear. Then there was the time an unknown drunk person wandered into the tent and randomly swung a punch at someone, who was easily able to dodge the drunken fist before the staggering man ambled off elsewhere.

Armed with pieces of paper letting you know the running order of every stage, it was then time to get out on site and it was often the last time you saw your colleagues until the end of the day.

T in the Park - 2009

Working hard – Some of the Sunday Mail T in the Park team  – 2009

T in the Park has brought a huge amount of bands and musicians to Balado and I’ve seen some truly memorable performances over the years.

There’s been glamor, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt showed off an amazing washboard stomach in 2002, there’s been Fergie of Black Eyed Peas, while Lady Gaga and Kerry Perry fought to be the Queen of T 2009, and festival favourite Alison Goldfrapp always captivates. Lively and vibrant on stage were the Scissor Sisters in 2004 and 2007, with both Ana Matronic and Jake Shears equally bedazzling.

Gwen Stefani in 2002

Gwen Stefani in 2002

When the sun descends on a festival stretching out its long hazy afterglow, it becomes a magical moment. People at this point are usually merry and carefree. They haven’t quite tipped the scales into overindulgence, with its messy aftereffects. It’s also when most of the headline acts start appearing giving them a chance to shine.

Sunset at T in the Park

Sunset at T in the Park

And there’s been some amazing headliners at T in the Park. 2003 belonged to REM and The Flaming Lips. Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters were on top form in 2005, while you knew The Killers, with their slot some way down the bill on the main stage, would be back to headline. (They headlined in 2007). They’ve got the tunes, as crowd-pleaser All Those Things That I Have Done, is perfect singalong festival fodder and they’ve got Las Vegas style glamor, all padded shoulders and feathers, sported by front man Brandon Flowers.

The Killers - Brandon Flowers

The Killers – Brandon Flowers

Arcade Fire were third from the top on the main stage in 2007, and they rocked the crowd, although they seemed a bit bemused by the Scottish audience, and perhaps that’s why they never came back?

Apart from the headliners, there’s been lots of other stand outs. Maxi Jazz of Faithless getting the whole crowd jumping finger in the air to their massive anthem We Come One. Elbow and Doves always delight and unite with their blokeish but sensitive rock. There’s been Tim Booth’s James and the good-natured vibe of hit Sit Down, The Proclaimers will always make sure everyone is up for a party and Paolo Nutini’s mix of laid back style and feel good romp is always popular.

The feisty crowds that appear for Primal Scream, Kasabian and Oasis are always a challenge when you’re standing with a notebook and pen. You’re bumped around, dodging pints and fielding statements like “who are you writing for?” and “gonna write about me”.

Snow Patrol headlining the King Tut’s tent 2004 just before single Run was about to propel them into super stardom and change their lives, was a special moment. The reception they got just about brought the tent down.

Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody Picture Credit - All Posters

Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody
Picture Credit – All Posters

Then fast forward to 2009, and on the main stage Snow Patrol were just behind headliners Blur – who were playing a “will they / won’t they appear?” game – as guitarist Graham Coxon was hospitalized with suspected food poisoning. They made it eventually.

Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro have played at T in the Park more times than any other band. In 2014 they made their 10th appearance. They were signed as young band in 1999 after their first outing at T which was on the T Break Stage.

Biffy Clyro - T in the Park 2014

Biffy Clyro – T in the Park 2014

T in the Park is also a great place to discover new bands to love. A band that captured me at T was Sons & Daughters with a brilliant set that I raved about for ages afterwards.

And it’s good to see how bands progress through the years, like Snow Patrol, mentioned already, and also Calvin Harris. He was second to open the main stage in 2009 with an understated set – and look at his headline act this year. It had an announcement from Hollywood actor Will Smith and more lights than Sports Direct supremo Mike Ashley’s house at Christmas.

In the earlier days of reporting T in the Park you phoned your copy into the Glasgow office to a team of dedicated copy-takers.  Later on the copy-takers in Glasgow were no more and you phoned your copy to a central team in England. There were quite a few challenges around this process. You had to find a quiet spot away from the stage, music, and throng of people, and a decent phone signal.  If you found a quiet spot, you suddenly became like Houdini, i.e. invisible, as drunk people were often also looking for a quiet spot … to pee. Then when you eventually got through to a copy-taker, read your carefully thought out words, you left the phone call wondering if your words would appear as you had said them. It made for a nervous pick up of the newspaper the following morning as you wondered if any musicians had suddenly joined other bands without them knowing it.

And there were deadlines, which meant a rush during the headliners to get all copy over as the editors and sub-editors were sitting waiting patiently / impatiently for words and photos to arrive.

At the end of the night everyone would get together again in the press tent, with sore feet and legs from standing or running about all day. We might have exchanged a few terse words during the day, it’s expected, but we still had a celebratory hug at the end.

T in the Park 2009

T in the Park 2009

T in the Park Balado is no-more … it will be interesting to see what next year’s T looks like in its new home.

Pic: from T in the Park

Pic: from T in the Park

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For more information about T in the Park 2015:  T in the Park website

Tickets on sale now for 10th – 12th July 2015

 

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Gigs in Glasgow, April 2014, reviews: Goldfrapp, Justin Timberlake, Elbow

 

Alison Goldfrapp

Alison Goldfrapp

Goldfrapp, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, April 4th, 2014

Alison Goldfrapp

Alison Goldfrapp

If you could describe Alison Goldfrapp in one word, it would be chameleon. The slight and striking singer flits easily between coy and coquettish to wailing banshee to ethereal angel, depending upon the mood and probably which of their albums she is focusing on. Their most recent album Tales of Us is a very stripped back affair and feels as if Alison and her musical partner Will Gregory have returned to their debut Felt Mountain, and it was a bold move to play almost all this album straight from the off. Those waiting for the more uplifting and dancey Number 1, Ride A White Horse and Train had to sit quietly in their seats till near the end of the gig. But there’s a sense that the band are confident enough in their work and how they deliver it, and they should be. They got everything spot on. The sound was astounding, the power behind the quieter songs was spellbinding, courtesy of Alison’s vocals which soared and were perfectly showcased on the likes of Jo and Annabel. The stage lighting was simple but effective and the overall result was a stunning performance from a band that know how to keep mixing it up and are constantly changing and evolving into something new and exciting.

Justin Timberlake, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, April 5th 2014

As exuberant as a puppy, Justin Timberlake gave the crowd what they came for and this gig left you thinking – is there anything he can’t turn his hand to? He can sing, dance, play instruments, act, look smooth and just put on a highly entertaining show. He looked like he was loving every minute – the crowd certainly were. The show was slick and polished right down to his shiny shoes which slid effortlessly throughout songs like Rock Your Body.

He made good use of the space, ensuring that all sections of the Hydro could see the full Justin experience – as at one point the huge hydraulic runaway bridge traveled across the Hydro as Justin ran from end to end during a rousing Let The Groove Get In.

The dancing and razzmatazz took a backseat when he sat at the piano and played a rendition of My Love. Two unexpected covers were aired, Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel, when he took to a b-stage with a guitar, and Michael Jackson’s Human Nature. 

A shortened version of the Jay Z collaboration Holy Grail segued into the soulful Cry Me A River which produced a massive sing-along from the Glasgow crowd. Take Back The Night ensured the crowd kept dancing and they had long ago reached fever pitch by the time he got to the finale which included the steamy Sexyback.

 

Elbow, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, April 6th, 2014

Guy Garvey, the amiable Elbow front man from Bury managed to make a gig at huge SSE Hydro feel like an intimate house party and we were all invited. Even the gatecrashers would get a pint, as long as they weren’t causing bother. He wished his niece a happy birthday, admitted he didn’t buy her a present, then sang her the wrong song. He outed couples on a first date and even got the male sector of the audience to say “I love”.  Justin Timberlake, the Hydro’s guest from the night before, he is not, but nonetheless in his own way Garvey has a knack for making the ordinary extraordinary. None more so than in his songs – where the lyrics are romantic paeans to rain-soaked pavements, glittering street lights and dark, dingy, deserted alleyways. It’s no surprise he cited Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile as an influence. The parallels with Manchester and Glasgow, historically northern industrial towns with a hard, gritty but often creative edge can also be seen.

We got a batch of songs from their sixth album, The Take Off and Landing of Everything, and they went down well with the crowd. The mood was relaxed, perhaps slightly safe but with a genuine warm fuzzy feeling of love and affection.

A constant throughout was the vocal performance of Garvey, world-weary on the ode to lost drinking companions, My Sad Captains, rousing on Grounds for Divorce and angelic on The Night Will Always Win,  Great Expectations and The Blanket of Night which was sung from a b-stage in the centre of the audience with Craig Potter on piano.

Mirrorball and The Bones of You emphasized further the band’s unashamedly romantic side. Garvey always seemed to make himself available for the crowd and if you were standing anywhere near the front you probably felt as if  Garvey was singing just for you.

There seems to be no other song to end an Elbow gig than One Day Like This. And if they’ve got fed up with this track’s exalted status to some kind of anthemic utopia, it doesn’t show. Garvey was thrilled by the massive crowd sing-along which eventually ended with the friendly front man surrounded by gigantic coloured bouncing balls.

 

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