Alison Goldfrapp stands under a single white spotlight in slim black pants and a black top with long, French-cuffed sleeves that billow in the soft currents of air that ripple from small fans at her feet. Her face is barely visible under a shock of blond curls through which she repeatedly runs her hands, as if to shake the dreams from her head and into New York's packed Beacon Theater. In between phrases, the ghostly siren sways against an abstract nature-themed backdrop, her silence as mesmerizing as her unmistakable voice.
Appearing without producer and keyboardist Will Gregory for the first part of the show, Alison, their band, and New York's 20-piece Wordless Orchestra celebrated the release of Goldfrapp's newest album Tale of Us on Tuesday night (September 10) by playing it almost in sequence. Performed live, the biographical concept of the album acquired a resonant immediacy, amplified by each song's introduction: "Annabel" is about a girl trapped in the body of a boy; "Stranger" is a noir tale about loving a serial killer; "Clay" is about two soldiers in love–and it closed the main act with a rapturous ovation.
After a brief intermission, Will joined Alison onstage for an encore featuring favorites from 2008's pastoral fantasia Seventh Tree and 2000's operatic debut Felt Mountain, including "A&E", "Road to Somewhere", and "Lovely Head", during which Alison seemed to use a different mic to give her otherworldly wailing a piercing poignancy that likely summoned higher beings to retrieve their wayward queen.
Tuesday night's Beacon gig was Goldfapp's only U.S. appearance of the year, and the seating-only venue and orchestral treatment made it clear that fans were not to expect electro classics like Black Cherry's "Strict Machine" (2003), or Supernature's "Ooh La La" (2005). It is no small credit to the duo's genre-bending imagination and technical finesse that you didn't even miss the boogie.
Road To Somewhere
Photo Credit: Carl Scheffel/MSG Photos