Goldfrapp review: An hour's enough for skulking diva

Goldfrapp ** Corn Exchange POP stars, eh? Overpaid business(wo)men whose daily routine usually consists of getting out of bed late, spending their royalties, and giving the odd interview – for stars as privileged as Alison Goldfrapp you'd think putting in two honest hours' graft every night wouldn't be asking too much. Uh-uh.

As last night's concert at the Corn Exchange attested, just one hour on stage seems all too much for the 42-year-old. At the end of her band's one-song "encore", Goldfrapp brought the gig to a premature halt, insisting: "I can't sing any more", leaving her bemused audience understandably perplexed.

Was her voice shot to bits? It certainly didn't sound like it, the disco diva's pitch-perfect voice sounding clear as a bell all evening. A more plausible excuse would be Alison just simply didn't want to be there.

From the minute she walked on stage, her body language suggested she wasn't in the mood. Skulking from one side of the stage to the next, you got the feeling the slightest problem would prompt a hasty exit, just as it had done during a concert in Liverpool a few days earlier.

Sure enough, with technical gremlins forcing her to terminate two songs, restarting one of them before giving up, you got the feeling the rest of her band were treading on egg-shells.

"Sorry, we are professional," she offered from behind a shock of frizzy blonde hair, the rest of her slim frame covered in a shocking pink smock (think Helen Slater in Supergirl).

Was this really the same act who had journalists dishing out five-star reviews earlier in the year?

Granted, their ethereal aesthetic (white robes, harps and kaleidoscopic imagery) is certainly pleasing on the eye, and yes, their new pastoral, electro-folk sound is indeed a refreshing change from their usual 70s-infused glam-rock ethic.

But when there's no real connection between performer and audience, well, you may as well be listening to the band on a stereo in the comfort of your own home.

Of the newer material, the folk-tronica of Happiness certainly got a few hearts pumping thanks to the pounding, bass-heavy nature of the drummer's kick-drum.

Yet despite the chilled-out nature of their most up-to-date tunes, the group's delicate harp and fiddle sounds were almost completely drowned out by bossy, over-saturated synthesisers.

The audience, meanwhile, were in responsive mood, kindly cheering the band on when things weren't going right on stage.

When the more recognisable songs came around 55-minutes into the set, things finally seemed to click into place, as Goldfrapp's foot-stomping dance numbers had the entire Corn Exchange getting into the groove. Then, just as soon as the gig should have peaked, it was over.

Departing the stage very quickly (quite possibly to exchange heated words over the stop-start-abort nature of some of the songs), the band returned a few minutes later before Alison Goldfrapp cut everyone's fun short by announcing she could sing no longer.

For an hour's performance that cost 22.50 a ticket, the fans deserved better. Pop stars, eh?