Goldfrapp / Tim Hutton - Manchester Hop & Grape - 17.2.01

Unlike a lot of recent singer songwriters, Tim Hutton makes the acoustic setting a little special by having an additional musician joining him on stage for electronic trancey beats. The shaven haired man starts his set with "Eugene" an emotional, mournful song obviously sung from the heart. He's also a versatile and accomplished musician taking turns on guitars, keyboards and even the old trumpet on "Being A Fool". It's this mixture of styles and instrumentation combined with an intensely personal lyrical base which sees him winning over the audience with ease.

Sadly the all too brief half hour support slot comes to an abrupt end with the title track of his album "Everything", a sombre but moving track. With talented musicianship and prolific song writing Tim Hutton is well on the way to a successful career and will appeal to both the traditional music fans as well as the dance audience.

As I enter the Hop & Grape I am astounded to discover that Goldfrapp have sold out the venue. I had the impression that the band were one of this countries best kept secrets but after supporting Doves and the ubiquitous Moby on their recent UK tours the word is out. Live its going to be interesting to see how they manage to reproduce the albums lush orchestral arrangements with only 5 members of the band on stage.

Using a moog, keyboards, a guitarist, drummer and of course the dulcet tones of the petite but perfectly formed Alison Goldfrapp they perform beautifully. The sound quality perfectly capturing the mood and excellence of the album. Miss Goldfrapp looks like a fortune telling gypsy complete with her Bet Lynch earrings, head dress and a hippy shirt. Her voice is simply amazing although we have to wait a good 5 minutes before she graces us with her presence. As the charming easy listening of "Miss World" comes to an end Alison makes her entrance. The slow stylish ballad "Paper Bag" is typical of Goldfrapps musical style while the more immediate dance track "Human" is the sort of song Bjork could only dream of writing. Comparisons with Portishead, however tired, do hold some validity on the emotional "Deer Stop" and its certain that Alison has a touch of the old Shirley Bassey.

An unexpected but well received cover of Olivia Newton Johns disco classic "Physical" has the Goldfrapp treatment and with "Startorious" the band end their hour long set. Like all the great entertainers Goldfrapp leave us wanting more but sadly we'll have to wait until May for that. With very little banter between the audience and the band it really is a case of getting lost in the music. Trust me, they have nothing to worry about on that score.

Nicholas Paul Godkin