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Report from Goldfrapp's concert in Lublin - 13.07.2014

If barely a few months ago someone told me that in Lublin, one of my favorite electronic music bands would perform, I’d treat them as a lunatic and advised them to cease overusing booze. Now, when I experienced firsthand one of the best shows of the year, I would have to politely take back everything I said. Well, something incredible happened, something even the oldest people could have never predicted. Goldfrapp band came to Poland. But not to Gdynia, Warsaw and Lodz. They came to a star starved Lublin and swept the city off the ground. Here's the coverage from this memorable event.
 
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I immediately warn you, this will not be a typical coverage, in the exact sense of the word. Rather, it will be a record of emotions and sensations that I was able to experience that warm summer evening. And considering the fact that I’m a representative of a generation that still "appreciates" this type of events (and does not take "selfie" during the final number), this coverage is very personal. It reaches deep into my core where the stock of the most precious memories resides. Compilation of a dozen of them built up the following text. So play along your favorite Goldfrapp album and see you in another dimension of consciousness in a few moments:)
 
Goldfrapp concert was held on Sunday, July 13, 2014 at Castle Square in Lublin. The entrance to the concert was - attention - completely free. The band performed at "Inne Brzmienia" festival and, it's not hard to guess, was the absolute main act. Fortunately the weather was good as well (for several previous days it was pouring rain). However, on the day of the concert, we had a typical summer, sunny weather. Unfortunate was only the fact that the final day was selected to be the final day of yet another event. Well, that's when another finale took place, namely, the World Cup finals. For die-hard Goldfrapp fans no problem existed, but for all the others, yes. Who knows what would be the turnout if the concert was not a conflict of these two events? Anyway, those who chose Goldfrapp certainly came out better (at least compared to those who were for Argentina).
 
Start of the concert was planned at 22:30, which was quite late. Taught by experience, I decided to come to the party-place a little earlier to get a good spot. And you can’t even imagine how surprised I was when, coming to the castle square (at approx. 21:00), I saw only a few people under the stage! People! What happened? Here I am, set up for the fierce fight for a place under the stage (including the fight for survival), and nothing like that happened! Could the audience be driven away by the music coming from the speakers?!?!? That’s possible, because it was the middle of Felix Kubin and Mitch & Mitch concert. Honestly, such a cacophony of sounds could flush out even the pro-Russian separatist from the territory of Ukraine. I was too determined to keep my place under the stage to leave, so I bravely fought the very unpleasant sound waves flowing through my central nervous system.
 
Around 22:00 the guys left and ran to watch the match. On the stage, Goldfrapp crew installed themselves, and under the stage so did the fans. In a flash, the square dedicated for public was filled with people. For those who did not get into the "golden circle" there was a lot of space on the stairs to the castle. It’s worth mentioning at this point that the scene was set so that the stairs leading to the Lublin Castle would serve as an amphitheatre. The crowd thickened, although I admit that it was not super tight under the stage. Just before 22:30 musicians supporting the band on tour were already setting themselves up on the stage and, after a while, from the left side of the scene the most desirable person of the evening emerged - Alison Goldfrapp! She greeted the audience and thanked them that, instead of watching the game, they decided to meet her. In response, she received a thunderous applause, while in the meantime, first sounds of classical number flew from the speakers. "Utopia" started.. The first big hit of Goldfrapp, in a concert version it took a completely different color. Live drums and violin added juiciness, without heavily losing out the electronic nature of this excellent composition by Will Gregory. It subtly dosed tension, rising and falling, in a few moments it made me fall into Goldfrapp’s hands. Shivers ran down my spine with every shove of my mind into the higher parts of the consciousness (who watched the clip to Utopia knows what "trips" I’m talking about). Then came the visual effects, which focused primarily on very precise play of light. There were no additional presentations in the background. Yes, on the back of the stage there was something like a mock-up, but it was a completely non-interactive element. But back to "Utopia" - it sounded really great. Alison has shown that she is not a capricious pop starlet with a programmed set of behaviors and gestures. From the first minutes of the concert it was clear that we are dealing with a great artist. Although she behaved with a slight reserve, fully under control, but on the other hand, not treating her performance instrumentally. Besides, she’s a really great singer who can perfectly operate his voice. Her daring vocal at the end of "Utopia" proved it right.
 
Then "You Never Know" came. Thank God the organizers have taken care of a decent sound system, and so the piece had the optimal level of "impact". Strong, steady bass coated in the flavor of electrical current, high voltage, shook the surrounding buildings. It's a miracle that the walls of the castle Lublin did not crack (but who knows?:). That’s what I love the most in Goldfrapp music - a combination of analog, slightly distorted and twisted electronics with the brilliant voice of Alison. However, Goldfrapp is not only the strong, stadium sounds crushing the audience into paving. It’s also a subtle spatial and ethereal atmosphere from "Felt Mountain" and "Tales Of Us" albums. I admit that these periods of group’s activity are not one of my favorite, but in spite of my fears, songs from their latest album defended themselves quite well. The first one was "Thea" which started a slower part of the concert. Electronics were left out and the audience had the opportunity to taste a more melancholic side of Goldfrapp. Some light has introduced with "Yellow Halo" (the piece is only on "The Singles" album). A piece maybe not overpowering, sounding a bit like a B-Side from "Seventh Tree" (although close to the very artist), it sounded very nice in live version.
 
By the way, the audience near the stage was divided into two parts (left and right). Between them there was an unfilled space in which security and paparazzi were walking. At some point, Alison asked, "what's with the tunnel in the middle"? Someone in the audience shouted: "It's an escape route, in case you wanted to get away". Here Alison laughed, saying, "ok, I'll have that in mind."
 
Another piece we could listen to was "Alvar". Still in climate of "Tales Of Us". It became even more gloomy and blond curls of Alison completely hid her eyes. The music was just the background, and the main part was played by Alison’s vocals. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not a big fan of "The Tales of us" so I was already waiting impatiently for the juicy bits from my favorite albums: "Black Cherry" and "Super Nature". However, the band gave to the lions... a little bird (it's not funny!). "Little Bird", the cheerful, optimistic piece from "Seventh Tree" made a pretty good concert show. Especially thanks to the fact that in the final Alison could improvise vocally a bit.
 
And here the first part of the concert is over. The second opened with characteristic whistling that Goldfrapp fans could not mistake for nothing. Yes - "Lovely Head". And again we drowned in Alison’s perverse poetry, framed in clouds of smoke, pale-coloured by headlights. By the way, to get the specific "overdrive" vocal (which can be heard in this song) Alison had to use an additional microphone. "Lovely Head" is a very intimate, dark number, that (like many of compositions by Will and Alison) holds the hidden nuclear charge. And Alison knows well how to take the audience into her marvelous world. World filled with her poetry and products of her imagination, which in such a brilliant way filters and bends reality that surrounds us. "Lovely Head" is probably the strangest Goldfrapp number which, on the other hand, is difficult to resist. I failed and scored a classic jaw drop. However, it was necessary to quickly collect the teeth from the floor because the decisive clash was just starting: the mix of my favorite tracks from "Black Cherry" and "Super Nature". The first one was "Number 1". Alison finally broke away from the tripod and began to walk with a microphone to the left side of the stage. The audience gave their thundering response and Alison clearly enjoyed it very much. "Number 1" sounded a bit like a hymn of electronic music fans. Of course, not pathetically, a hymn with a grain of salt.
 
Another delicious dish was announced by rhythmically thudding beat (a bit like "Personal Jesus") but after a while we heard the unmistakable sound of a "slaughtered pig" (as one of my friends says). But it’s not agricultural fair in Elizówka but Goldfrapp concert so it became clear that for the next few minutes we will be driven through by the electronic roll called "Train". And it was yet another proof of how skillfully Alison and Will can dispense pressure and tension in their compositions. This powerful dose of electronic venom would throw an adult rhinoceros off its feet, not to mention the audience gathered under the stage. It was hard to stand motionless during such a strong number, so the audience fell into a sort of electro-moshpit. You could see groups of people jumping and waving their limbs to the  music. I must admit that Alison is able to perfectly combine her phenomenal vocals with electronic roughness in songs from "Black Cherry" and "Super Nature". The sum of these two components transforms their music into a separate, mechanical-human being. On one hand, cold and industrial, on the other filled with sex and passion.
 
When the train reached the terminus I felt like I had just walked out of the washing machine. But this was not the end of ambiguous proposals that Goldfrapp offered, because here comes the next hit number, this time from "Super Nature". It’s "Ride on a white horse", of course. This time dancers with 'horse' heads did not appear on stage (as it used to be on previous tours). Instead there was a lot of fire (well, maybe not literally). We felt like in the best club where, instead of Weekend, Alison Goldfrapp band reigned. "Ride on a white horse" is another "killer tune" which will make the blood boil. Blood that, reaching the brain, serves a narcotic cocktail of endorphins. The spaciousness always strucks me in this piece. If someone ever invents a way to travel in time it would sound just like the chorus in "Ride on a white horse". I love the feeling of total infinity, the virtual journey to the limits of the universe (I know it's hard to believe, but I really didn’t take anything before the show ;). That aside, let me add that the ending with a slightly outlined chip-tune style motif sounded very interesting. Really loads of goodies for one piece. And please, don’t make me go back down to the ground!
 
Fortunately, there was nothing like that planned, because there, from vapor of smoke emerges... "Strict Machine"! Number from MOM that literally grinds my bones. The beginning is a juicy, electronic, slightly hoarse (I could just go on here) intro in old analog style, complemented by distinctive Goldfrapp "beating" on drums. Alison, using the steady beat, launched for a "military" march across the stage, urging the audience to clap. It really was just a formality, because the audience was already quite strongly warmed up with the previous numbers, so the "Strict Machine" was welcomed as the proverbial "black" icing on the cake. Much to my delight, Alison finally showed claws and the performance of "Strict Machine" was like a black mass celebration for fans of electronic music. And here you could felt that mystical energy exchange between Alison and the audience. She, like a priestess, directed toward us the whole energy charge of that totally orgasmic number. That kind of energy cannot be described in words, you have to feel it and allow it to willingly weave the neural connections in our mind. If you didn’t experience it at the castle at least watch it on youtube. Number simply breathtaking at every turn of the chorus loop, in which Alison - like a mantra - says, "I'm in love with a strict machine!". You have to really be a genius to create such an amazing song, and even more, to perform it live with such a kick.
 
At the end, Alison once again showed off with her five-octave soprano voice, and lighting operators induced nystagmus with their skills. Strict Machine ended not only a sequence of energetic songs in the show’s setlist, but also the concert! And it was really hard landing on the ground. Accustomed to the nearly two-hour concert marathon I couldn’t accept that... this was the end. Alison thanked for the warm welcome and introduced the band members and... disappeared from the stage. I still had hopes for an encore, but no chance for that, the concert lasted less than an hour, and my battery was charged only in some 70%. When the stage team began to dismantle instruments it was already clear that there was no more boost. So I went back home stumbling on the way, on one hand, totally washed after contact with such a phenomenal music and such a unique artist, on the other, with a total hunger for more. However, there’s nothing strange in that, after all it was not a "regular" concert but a performance at the festival, where the time frame is counted a little differently.
 
Summing up, the duration of the concert was probably the only drawback. Musically, it was a real treat at the world – I’d say even more - interplanetary level! Alison was in great shape and it was clear that she didn’t come to Lublin to simply check off the concert. You could feel that she was in her element, that she and music are one indissoluble unity. Many artists try to "get into" the climate of their works, but very often the song and artist are two different entities. Here we are dealing with something more than just a live performance of really good songs. We were able to establish a relationship with an artist of great stature, get an insight into her inner world, which, on the other hand, turns out to be something really close. I dare even say that our worship is mutual. The next day, Alison published this post on the official Goldfrapp tweeter: "The strangest set up for a gig tonight?! But Poland you were fantastic! You made an otherwise miserable situation very special. Thank you! X" to add after a moment: "Was great to meet you after the gig tonight, I hope we can come back to Poland to do a theater show... until then xxx". Shoot! There was an afterparty? Well, no, Alison (apparently against the wishes of her manager), half an hour after the show, came out to the people camped under the stage. She gave away some autographs, talked with fans. Of course, I know that all from Goldfrapp forum, because I had too little oil in the head to stay even a little after the concert and wait for Alison. Those with greater insight and patience were rewarded. Fortunately, through the team guardian on behalf of the Culture Workshop  (Mrs. Paulina, I am eternally grateful) I was able to give the band some good CDs with Polish electronic music (including Aya RL and Marek Bilinski). But back to the posts Alison tweeted, it seems that the band didn’t expect to be so warmly welcomed during their visit to Poland. Alison even declared that he hoped for another appearance, this time with a "theatrical performances". Could it mean the play "Medea" to which Alison and Will have created a musical setting? Any "military" activity in Poland by Goldfrapp is very welcomed. And although the works of Goldfrapp band  take more and more different forms (film, theater) I still hope that I'll be given another chance to tear my throat with Strict Machine, then be transferred to a parallel world called Alvar, and finally be pressed into the ground by Utopia. Few artists are able to manhandle me during the concert in such a way like Goldfrapp does. I’m enormously glad for what I could experience during this very short time. I’m also glad that it all happened just a few miles away from my home. For the first time, a trip to the concert of a great artist was not a trip to some distant place in the universe (finally not being made to search for transport, book accommodation, or even make lard sandwiches for the way;). It was enough to close the door to the house, get into the car and, after 20 minutes, to be already under the stage. The person who came up with the idea of inviting Goldfrapp to Lublin gets a drink from me (I'm serious!). I hope that it’s not the end and finally Lublin will become a residence for really big stars. I treat Goldfrapp concert as opening of a new rout when it comes to musical events in Lublin region. Bar has been raised very high. Hmm.. what about a Depeche Mode concert  in Lublin in three years? That’d be great:)
 
From the depths of memory dug and written by
Marek Hać (MarX)
 
Setlist:
 
1. Utopia
2. You Never Know
3. Thea
4. Yellow Halo
5. Alvar
6. Little Bird
7. Lovely Head
8. Number 1
9. Train
10. Ride a White Horse
11. Strict Machine
 
Thanks for Jola (IfIonlycould) for consciousness during a concert and writing down the setlist!
 
Author:
Translator: kantellis
Add date: 2014-10-15 / Live reports




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