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Live Review: Patrick Wolf @ Queen Elizabeth Hall

If you have seen Patrick Wolf before you probably think you know what to expect, but the chameleon-like performer never delivers the same show twice. Saturday night saw another chapter -  probably his most reflective in the colourful tale so far – in a place frequently referenced in this open-ended story – London’s South Bank Centre.

The theatre applauded warmly as Patrick followed his fellow musicians onto the stage, which he would grace for two hours, performing an array of pieces from his back catalog that shed details of a journey moving from boy to man. For an artist who tells it all in his music, from the highest of highs to the deepest lows, Wolf sang his heart out, watched by his nearest and dearest (his sister Jo performed alongside him for a number of songs). He seemed unfazed by what felt like an intimate situation despite the the grand environment.

There is a happy ending to the unfinished story that began with a tortured teenage soul suffering from clinical lycanthropy who braved the world, fighting past the non-believers to achieve a dream and find love and contentment. As the lights glared, the intensity of the music was lightened by Wolf’s boyish chat which was met by giggles and applause from an admiring crowd. The honesty in ‘Overture’, the freedom of ‘Teignmouth’ and the strength and happiness of ‘The City’ echoed through every syllable, whilst ‘Bitten‘ – co-written by the late Amy Winehouse - felt achingly dark.

As the giant figure haunted the stage with his powerful presence, the backdrop shone with images of Wolf’s younger self. A collection of musicians stood by his side and in typically Wolf style, the instruments were swapped around like a game of pass-the-parcel. From one minute to the next, Wolf mixed things up; moving around the stage to sit at the piano, or play a harp or to pluck away at a uke. There was even time for some guitar strumming on his reworked, less angsty version of ‘Hard Times’.

The audience was silenced by the rare treat of a performance of ‘The Libertine’, taken from his early B-side Godrevy Point. The climax came with ‘The Magic Position’, which couldn’t feel any more epic and uplifting as the audience clapped along, rising from their seats in a final ovation. Wolf has promised to disappear for a while in order to try and learn to be a normal person, although it remains to be seen how long the mighty singer can remain away from the stage…

- Matt Pinder



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