Tonight I went to see Goldfrapp at the O2 Academy in Bristol and I thought it was a very good gig, even if Alison Goldfrapp did jump the shark slightly with the outfit she wore for the first section of the encore, which depending on your viewpoint made her look like either a shuttlecock or a cupcake. It was a bit too try-hard wacky.
But after the concert, debate RAGED between one of my friends and the rest of us about the merits of the gig, due to the fact that he thought the band’s performances of their songs were too close to the versions on record. As in, identical. His view was that a gig should be more than this: that songs should be reinterpreted for the live venue to bring something new to them.
It’s an opinion that I can sympathise with. Certainly my favourite group, Radiohead, never settle on one arrangement with their old material. From new keyboard parts in Fake Plastic Trees, to guitar wigouts in Go To Sleep, to almost unrecognisable variations on tracks from Kid A and Amnesiac, part of the fun of going to see the band is to find out what they’ve done to their songs this time around. But there’s also the argument that fans go to a gig to hear the music they love listening to, played in the way they’ve grown to love listening to it.
I don’t think that either opinion is necessarily completely “right”. After all, there’s the old cliche of the overlong drum/guitar solo that makes a four minute song seem to last a lifetime (hello, all 70s/80s rock groups still touring), but on the other hand it’s always cool to hear something unexpected brought to a song which gives a new spin on things.
Maybe tonight I was easily pleased. I love Goldfrapp, I love Alison’s voice, and seeing multiple keytars being used on stage immediately made me think of Rock Band 3. Maybe it was a slightly safe gig. But the songs were so good, there’s nothing really wrong with that.