Every few months (on a day close to pay day) I will go on a concert ticket buying binge. I will look at the schedule for the coming twelve months; purchase any that look promising – which are not outrageously expensive or sold out; mark the date in my diary and forget about them. Until that handy little reminder pops up a few days in advance to warn of the impending event.
So it was with Patrick Wolf, whom I saw in the Sugar Club last night. I had seen him previously in the Melkweg (Milky Way) in Amsterdam in April 2011. I can remember this date as while at that concert a friend was in the audience (of which I was not aware) took a picture of me from a height, looking very moody and artistic. Having a healthy ego, I have used this picture as a Facebook profile picture, which serves as a precise reminder of when I saw the gig.
It was a very special show. I didn’t know much about him – save for the fact that gay lifestyle magazine Attitude used to rave about him. As the ticket for the Melkweg was only €20, I was a guaranteed attendee. Live music at that price is never a risk for me.
He sang an electro-pop set with his soaring voice, and backing band. Playing the guitar and piano like a prodigy. I had loved the gig.
I was expecting more of the same last night. I don’t know why. It had been over six years since I’d seen him. Maybe the impression he’d left back then had been strong enough, to convince me that this was the type of hyper confident artist that he always was.
My expectations were high as I waited in the cold for admittance to the Sugar Club last night.
It was my first time at this venue. Located in the basement of an ugly office block, the décor on the inside is slightly loungy, slightly decadent, slightly seedy. Like a cabaret club, the seating is by tables, where you can rest your beverage. I liked it very much. I reckon the crowd capacity was about 250. An ideal amount.
When Mr. Wolf finally appeared on stage, I had to blink to make sure it was him. I had never known that he was so tall, being an admirable 6’5”. Dressed in a black cape, with dishevelled black hair he looked like a crazed, Byron-esque poet who’d spent a long time, prowling the castle at night.
He was unaccompanied by other musicians this evening – just himself, his piano, his guitar, his ukulele, his violin. It was his first gig after a long sabbatical, and he seemed to be easing himself gently back into the rigours of performance.
He seemed slightly nervous, and hesitant, yet surprised by the wave of affection the audience felt towards him – in particular from one of his London super-fans from Vauxhall, who despite his middle age, was shrieking like a teenybopper. It wasn’t a polished or slick show by any means. He stopped and restarted several songs if the sound was not to his liking, adlibbing when he flubbed a lyric. The tone was fairly orchestral and somber, far less poppy than my previous encounter with him. His voice is sublime though – soaring, clear and strong.
And the tales he told of wandering the cemeteries of Paris as a teenager seemed in keeping with his new, otherworldly adult persona. He seemed to enjoy himself. The audience certainly did. The emphasis was on his earlier and less mainstream work. All the better for it too. It was a mesmerising show, with a very rare talent.
He promises to be back with new music next year. I’ll be the front of the queue for the live show.