Review: Patrick Wolf, O2 Academy

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The blonde in front of me turned to her friend and said something along the lines of, ‘If I can just touch his bum once, in my life, I’ll be happy.’  Patrick Wolf, preening and perspiring, then swung a large spotlight into our eyes, possibly leaving lasting retinal damage, and causing a forest of hands to spring up in almost Pentecostal celebration.  No better way to celebrate Hallowe’en, then, than at his cultish altar.

Five albums into his career, Wolf is in a very comfortable spot, and it shows.  He swaggered onstage in jeans so tight that the Aloe Vera Vaseline perched over the famed left buttock was very clearly outlined, and delivered a sensitive and mature set, to a sensitive and mature crowd. Almost two hours of music, and most of it wonderful. Wolf has mastered the delicate art of playing fresh versions of old songs without leaving his fans feeling cheated out of what they love. It’s hard not to like the man – his rare bursts of speech were usually sweetly amusing, and he managed to pull off fluffing the words on a new track with high levels of charm.

All in all, it made for a very intimate and loving environment, especially when he congratulated us for dancing on a Monday night. And my God, can the boy sing. And strum, and pluck, and all other varieties of percussive movements. An acoustic arrangement with violin and harp for his upcoming EP was a particular highlight, as was a brief cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘All I Want’.

Wolf’s instrumentalists are seriously good – Victoria Sutherland, his violinist, ran a high risk of stealing the show. Actually, all of it was good – clever lighting, good conversational rapport, an enthused, even fanatical, crowd, and fantastic, fantastic music. He emerged for the encore with some extraordinary taxidermic creature perched on his white shirt, which moulted gently through ‘The Magic Position’, and the eyes of the boy to my left began to well up. A gold star night.

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