Patrick Wolf, The Old Vic, London
Thursday 06 September 2012
Celebrating his five albums and 10-year pop career, Patrick Wolf kicks off a world tour by showcasing the songs that have made him famous.
Joined onstage by a 10-piece orchestra, tonight sees them play acoustic arrangements of his most recognisable works from his new double album of re-recordings, Sundark and Riverlight.
Opening with a hum of strings, Wolf sings "Ghost Songs" from offstage, appearing from the wings in the theatrical garb worthy of the venue. He emphasises both the ridiculous and imperious nature of tonight's performance by wearing a gold-laurel wreath and cape, but offers up something more sincere and down-to-earth in performance. There's a fragility and warmth in the simplicity of some the arrangements such as "Hard Times" and "Paris" that tease the audience into this woozy night of music.
There's a change in tone on "Bermondsey Street" as he struggles to remember the verses. Halting mid song, he admits to mixing up the "he's" and "she's" of the lyrics: "It's straight, then it's gay, it's straight, then it's gay," he repeats to himself nervously, quickly moving on to the bigger hits. "The City", "The Magic Position" and "Time of My Life" have the audience get up and start enjoying themselves, whooping with laughter as he dances provocatively on "The Libertine". His nervousness between songs seems more like a childish excitement than stage-fright. With too many toys to play with onstage and seemingly not enough time to play them, he jumps feverishly from piano to ukulele to harp and has to calm himself with an, "OK, now it's time to settle down," before moving on to more tender songs. "Teignmouth" provides a delicate interplay of piano and harp, while the rousing chorus on "Together" brings nearby audience members to tears.
"I've never really been in love," he says, introducing the next song, "but I wrote a song to the city." Wolf pounds out the big, fat chords of Big Ben chimes on "London", which resonates with this year's Olympic and Jubilee fever. While there are some odder arrangements in which the vibrancy of the original electronics are missed, Sundark and Riverlight is more than a crass gimmicky set of reworkings; it's a worthy experiment in artistic musical arrangements.
"I'm going to go now," he says after playing the last track "Pigeon Song", "but I want to stay forever."
A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend
A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The way the police have treated Cliff Richard is completely unacceptable
- 2 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 3 Michael Brown shooting: Ferguson police shoot and kill second young black man
- 4 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 5 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermeister and vodka
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness
JK Rowling releases new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing Celestina Warbuck, the 'Singing Sorceress'
Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermeister and vodka
The funniest joke at Edinburgh Fringe 2014: Tim Vine wins for second time
Kate Bush: Previously unseen photographs reveal new side to comeback star
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head