Decadent Gigantitude



at the Wiltern, March 11

You only live twice? We’ll see. Goldfrapp’s 2000 debut, Felt Mountain, was a luminous amalgam of the glammest bits from the ’60s Bond flicks, paying similar tribute — via the vast expanses of Will Gregory’s Alpine-strolling electronic keyboards and Alison Goldfrapp’s quasi-operatic yodeling — to kindred rotting-romance specialists like Ennio Morricone, Serge Gainsbourg and Bert Brecht. It was an ingeniously fresh sound that could probably never be bettered.

So they didn’t attempt to. Instead, Goldfrapp dug into their sources for themes of decadence/decay, cashing in on our basic instinct for danceable dangers with pure sleaze on 2003’s Black Cherry and recently on the boiled-to-techno-essence Supernature. They are now, in practical effect . . . the new Soft Cell.

Don’t hit me; you know it’s true. Actually, this show was awesome in a few respects, not least for its profoundly sphincter-clenching electronic-bass excitement. Goldfrapp have expanded to a touring five-piece, and they really slammed the stuff out, which meant that their run-throughs of the Felt Mountain songs got a pretty rude bludgeoning. The whalelike gigantitude of the sound was justifiable, however, striving to attain that narcotizing body domination experienced in the Giorgio Moroder–produced Donna Summer discs way back when.

Which Goldfrapp did achieve on songs mostly from the last two albums, with especially throbbing renditions of “Black Cherry,” “Ride a White Horse” and the dance-chart hit “Strict Machine.” The audience roared throughout, and wee Alison, with her tiny black miniskirt and leggy legs, yelped and soared with Shirley Bassey beauty — though she needs to work on her stage patter (“How are you?” giggles, etc.) A couple of dancers wearing animal heads or acting like cyborgs enhanced the proceedings, as did seizure-inducing lighting effects. Marlene Dietrich would’ve liked it; Marc Bolan I’m not so sure about.

—John Payne

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