It was hard to resist the temptation to check your watch after the first song or two of Goldfrapp’s set Wednesday night. Not because the show ran nearly 90 minutes late due to technical problems, but to make sure the Henry Fonda Theater hadn’t entered some sort of time warp. Like so many other current bands, the English troupe reworks the sounds of the late ’70s and early ’80s.
In Goldfrapp’s case, it’s synthpop that’s being revived. Once again, disco beats are slowed into dirges, the stiff basslines are robotic funk, and the keyboards clatter and swoop ominously around the wails of a coolly decadent singer. Elements of David Bowie’s “Low” and “Heroes,” the Cocteau Twins, Soft Cell and Gary Numan bubble up in the mix, along with touches of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti Western scores and Weimar-era cabaret. Tunes such as “Strict Machine” and “Train” (from their recent Mute album “Black Cherry”) have an undeniable propulsive appeal, but there’s no getting away from the feeling that you’ve heard this all before.
It’s presented in a handsomely mounted production. Dressed in a tight dress, thigh-high boots and hat perched on her head at an insouciant angle, singer Alison Goldfrapp projects an alluring perversity — half girl scout, half dominatrix — and she’s bathed in a constantly shifting palette of lights. But nothing about the show scratches the surface, and you can’t escape the feeling that’s because Goldfrapp is nothing but surface: shiny and attractive, but hollow at its center.