Live Music + Gig Reviews

Alison Goldfrapp @ Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh

25 August 2023

At the end of a summer that’s taken in club gigs and festivals, debut solo album The Love Invention’s material points confidently to a redefined future 

Alison Goldfrapp

Alison Goldfrapp, live at Edinburgh International Festival 2023 (Photo: Jess Shurte)

With a minimalist, Y2K aesthetic staging, Alison Goldfrapp‘s Edinburgh International Festival show caps off a summer of gigs that has taken her new solo guise across the UK and Europe, to both club gigs and festivals, road testing material in settings enclosed and open to the skies. Opening with Hotel (Suite 23), a slower song from her debut solo album The Love Invention, demonstrated a justified confidence in the material. There was no fanfare or build-up, but instead the presence of a seasoned performer of over 20 years fronting on-hiatus duo Goldfrapp. Clad in a black, sparkly number with an outline resembling a bird with feathers made of obsidian shards and slicked-back white blonde hair, there was something rather witchy about Alison the Solo Artiste.

Moving on to the title track of her solo album, she was joined by contemporary dancers. There was a command for the audience to stand, which was rapidly observed by all. Digging Deeper Now lent itself particularly well to the Playhouse stage as Alison cooed softly to a euphoric beat. During her debut solo single So Hard So Hot, you could see her fully immersing into the performance, and this had an infectious quality on the audience who dived in with her. Another low-tempo performance that worked powerfully was SloFlo, where dancers told a story alongside this moving track which some have interpreted to be about suicide. It was easy here to be reminded of Goldfrapp’s theatrical input such as with the National Theatre’s 2014 production of Medea.

Theatrics aside, this was Alison Goldfrapp at her most personable. It was as though performing as herself as opposed to being part of a band had liberated her. She seemed to be enjoying herself thoroughly and regularly checked that everyone else was as well. There was practically a gasp when she left the stage to say hello to the audience and compliment their outfit choices, like a deadly big cat waltzing out of its cage to demand fuss.

As well as the new material, there were reinterpretations throughout of Goldfrapp tracks. Believer from Head First was sped up and reinvented into something less Disco and closer to thumping House as she stalked aggressively around the stage. Number 1, a favourite from the band’s imperial Supernature era, was similarly beefed up with dancier production which avoided there being too much of a contrast between old and new music. With the pounding rhythm of Anymore, the underrated first single from the last (so far) Goldfrapp album Silver Eye, you were given hindsight of the direction she had perhaps been heading in before going fully solo. Rocket, another single from Head First, made a reinvented comeback, now sounding like it belonged it the depths of Vauxhall’s clubs. It became apparent that more commercial Dance material such as this is, at this point in time, very much her forte.

After emerging from a lengthy encore break, she confessed that she was “Just going to soak it up” as she was dreading the return to normal life. You wonder what ‘normal’ life is like for such an enigmatic performer, but one thing is certain – Popfrapp is dead, long live Clubfrapp.

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More on Alison Goldfrapp
Alison Goldfrapp @ Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh
Alison Goldfrapp @ Here at Outernet, London
Alison Goldfrapp – The Love Invention