Saturday, 5 November 2011

Patrick Wolf Live @ Manchester Ritz 26/10/11

Support for the eagerly anticipated Patrick Wolf was from the poptastic Cocknbullkid, whose intelligent pop songs sounded much better live than on record. Singer-songwriter Anita Blay impressed with her rich voice and cool attitude. Highlights were ‘Asthma Attack’ and ‘Hold On To Your Misery’, in a set full of cool, upbeat pop songs.

As well as playing many songs from his fifth album, ‘Lupercalia’ (well, it was the ‘Lupercalia’ tour...) Patrick Wolf also treated fans to some perfectly chosen oldies, including ‘Gypsy King’, which he dedicated to the Dale Farm struggle. We were also lucky enough to get an insight into Patrick’s new material, as he debuted a few verses of a new winter solstice dedicated track, ‘Time Of Year’.

Also included were ‘Accident and Emergency’ and the perfectly autumnal ‘Bluebells’ from ‘The Magic Position’; ‘Hard Times’, foot-stomping barn-dance ‘The Bachelor’, a dance version of ‘Who Will?’ and ‘Tristan’ from ‘The Bachelor’. ‘Tristan’ especially was a highlight, Wolf playing it ‘as it was originally intended’ on the ukulele, having found an old notebook with the original chords in recently. Despite the more serene --maybe sophisticated – exterior of Patrick Wolf’s new image (including the suit that he came on stage wearing, but later shed in favour of a Morrissey-style open shirt, showing off his famous unicorn tattoo), his stage presence was still, in true Patrick Wolf style, dramatically weird. This was even more salient during ‘Tristan’, a wonderfully angry declaration of existence ("Don’t ask me what I was on when I wrote this, or what kind of day I was having..."), and ‘The Bachelor’, (which, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again) is such a foot-stomper, during the line ‘no-one will wear my silver ring’ Wolf bit his own engagement ring- thank god, he’s still weird!  As a multi-instrumentalist, Patrick played the violin, piano, harp on the glorious, defiant ‘Bermondsey Street’ and a strange slide-guitar style instrument used during the tear-jerkingly, beautifully tender ‘Armistice’.

The ‘Lupercalia’ songs sounded even more joyous and life-affirming live than on record: ‘Time of My Life’ brought me to tears because of the beauty of Patrick’s voice and  that, along with the rest of ‘Lupercalia’, it is so defiantly happy. New single ‘The Falcons’ was also greatly uplifting, and once again got the audience dancing.

Mr. Wolf really knows how to work a crowd. Looking happy to be there and never focusing too much time or attention on one part of the audience, he glided from one side of the stage to another, reaching his hand in to sing to members of the front row. During ‘Together’, after a costume change into a glittering gold sequin top, Patrick jumped off stage and into the crowd to party with us. Before climbing over the barrier, he sang into the face of a 6-foot guy on the front row before giving him a massive snog. Wolf found his way right to the middle of the crowd, he snogged a few more guys, too, prompting someone near me to comment ‘there’s a lot of guy-on-guy action going on over there’. When asked whether we would prefer ‘more songs or less songs and a costume change’, the crowd overwhelmingly went for ‘more songs’, prompting Patrick to compliment our "excellent taste".

Choosing to close with two of his happiest, ‘The Magic Position’ and ‘The City’ were another wise decision, and a perfect sing-along way to end a simply wonderful evening. Hats off to the wonderful Patrick Wolf for lifting each and every one of us out Manchester into another place, beyond the drudgery of a mid-week evening.

By Holly Read-Challen

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