Goldfrapp, Union Chapel, London

Union Chapel, London

It would have been hard to engineer a better artist/venue fit than Alison Goldfrapp and the Union Chapel. Goldfrapp is going through a pastoral-folk phase, and it is splendidly complemented by this quirky, airy Victorian building - possibly the only hall in London where yeoman farmer-cum-clown stage costumes seem poignant and fitting.

This show is her and cohort Will Gregory's first live airing of their fourth album, Seventh Tree, which entered the chart at No 2 this week. Finally enthroned as a major player and facing a houseful of fans who have paid up to £300 a ticket on eBay, Goldfrapp lives up to expectations with a landmark performance. On this basis, next year's Brit award for best female has her name on it.

A string section, including harpist, play a large part in creating a fragile, fairytale atmosphere, and Goldfrapp is the breathy centrepiece, whispering lyrics that are only occasionally decipherable. Her bubbling blond curls and pink clown-smock make her seem immensely vulnerable - it is certainly a contrast to her 2006 disco-dominatrix look. "Here we go again, we're going round, going round," she breathes at the end of one number, and she could be a child singing a nursery rhyme.

Seventh Tree is played in its entirety, albeit out of sequence and with a few glam-rock oldies such as Utopia and Number 1 stirred in (these are identifiable by dancefloor basslines that grind into gear, jarring you out of your reverie). The new songs provoke the greatest applause, which is unheard of at a pop gig, but much-deserved here. Goldfrapp barely moves and does not speak between songs, yet her voice creates a glistening spell and nobody wants it to end. When it does, with an achingly melancholy encore of Clowns, there is a standing ovation. Quite a show.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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