Review : Patrick Wolf - Live
ContactmusicMuch more than a multi-instrumentalist Patrick Wolf is a showman. Throughout five albums across eight years Patrick has utilised guitar, ukelele, piano, violin, harp and countless other instruments to drift from brooding folk to joyous disco pop, but all this seems incidental on-stage. Like support act Rowdy Superst*r the emphasis is strongly on the performance and stage show, although unlike tonight's hors d'eouvre Patrick always has a song to drive the theatrics.
Not yet in his thirties, he has already amassed an enviable back-catalogue, and the set is a perfect mix of tracks from his as-yet-to-be-released fifth album "Lupercalia" and his first quartet of full-lengths. The two singles from "Lupercalia", 'Time Of My Life' and 'The City', are already fan favourites and both fit his stage persona perfectly, bouncing around with Cheshire grins, albeit with a possible air of vacancy.
Either side of a costume change Patrick prowls the stage and reaches out into the audience as his (as good as) backing band maintain the backbone of the set. The over-riding sense of euphoria present both on-stage and across the audience lead to the brooding couplet of 'Tristan' and 'Don't Say No', selections from début and sophomore "Lycanthropy" and "Wind In The Wires", feeling slightly out of place despite their re-workings.
That his encore consists of a new track and a selection from 2009's "The Bachelor", generally regarded as his poorest full-length to date, shows his confidence. The finalé is, perhaps inevitably, largest hit 'The Magic Position', the sickly sweet slice of pomp that no doubt first endeared him a large percentage of the 14+ crowd whose reception is a world away from the typical arms-folded shoe-studying of the Rescue Rooms....full text
NmeDo I look like a terrorist with this scarf?” asks a coquettish Patrick Wolf towards the end of the show, while wrapping a red and white keffiyeh around his head. That would be a no, Patrick, not least because terrorists don’t generally dress in ’80s sex-club chic, topless apart from a harness and leather trousers, garnished with a Sarah Harding-style platinum razor haircut. But let’s take you back to the beginning of the night, to when Patrick bounds onstage with a massive black cape resting over colossal shoulder pads, creating the kind of silhouette that would have David Byrne seething with jealousy. As always with Patrick Wolf, it’s the clothes that maketh the man, and tonight they’re the icing on an already extravagant and delicious cake. The cape comes off to reveal a porcupine-spiked jacket and those leather kecks. Brandon Flowers: look and learn.
Leaning upon a lectern, Patrick delivers a ferocious ‘Tristan’, harder and tougher than ever before. He keeps up the same dark intensity for new song ‘Battle’, which conjures up all manner of early-’80s seedy New York performance art dives; the frail, ukulele-plucking youth in a tank top has been well and truly exorcised. Loosening his clip-in blond plait, and with a mini microphone strapped to his face, if Patrick’s channelling anyone tonight, it’s Madonna on her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour. He’s got the diva-esque moves too, writhing on his knees and lovingly playing with his locks. For an encore of ‘Bloodbeat’ and ‘Vulture’, there’s even a full costume change incorporating a face of pink glitter and winged cape. At times, he’s crawling, beast-like across the floor, venting enough raw emotion and passion to land him the lead in a West End musical. When Gareth Gates has finished doing Joseph, Andrew Lloyd Webber should give Patrick a call....full text
The-flyWhen Patrick Wolf was last in our lives in 2009 he brought us ‘The Bachelor’; his dark and rather morose take on love and depression. Tonight’s show, however, introduces us to ‘The City’ - Patrick’s happy and lovestruck new material, due to be released next year.
Bounding onstage in a red jumpsuit plus red blazer, waistcoat and corsage - Wolf is far from shy and retiring, as ever. He immediately starts up ‘Bluebells’ and begins striking poses; his deep, passionate vocals filling the elegant ballroom his fans have duly filled. He's only too happy to add a dramatic stance or camp flourish to his bold, gothic pop songs. With a hit-laden back catalogue to draw from, ‘The Libertine’ and ‘Hard Times’ are soon dispensed with ease. And backed by a ten piece band, tracks like ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘Oblivion’ come complete with a cinematic sweep - packed full of passion and drama. Wolf’s musical ADD is highlighted too, as the violin strings soon give way to the beats of Berlin dungeon anthem ‘Tristan’ - a timely reminder that there is more to Wolf than windswept countryside melodrama.
Wolf is a figurehead for the misfits and outsiders of this world, his passionate fans identifying a fellow outcast in his sometimes misery-laden music. However, that could change with the release of ‘The City’ as the singer is now writing about subjects like, errr, the government’s plans to increase university fees. Yes, sexually ambiguous eccentric pop oddball Patrick Wolf is going all Billy Bragg on us and introduces his new album’s title track as his “protest song”. In what proves a worrying trend for the four songs showcased this evening, it’s hard to warm to this new material, ironically consisting of more 1980s excess than Maggie backing Yuppie, including spurious use of the saxophone. Elsewhere, ‘Bermondsey Street’ is Wolf’s song about being in love on a sunny day in South London; while it’s nice to see happiness emanating from an artist prone to petulance and upset, the music seems strangely shallow and far from the brilliance of his more soul-searching offerings.
As the set ends with ‘The Magic Position’, easily one of the catchiest pop songs of this century, it’s clear to see why so many people love Patrick Wolf and continue to follow him on his musical adventures. On the evidence of tonight though, they could be in for another bumpy ride....full text
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