Here at Popfools we are all about the pop. We love the pop. The soundtrack of our life is and always will be pop. However, we also have certain other tastes, be it other artists or other genres, which we appreciate.
Finding ourselves at a loss of anything to do on a Wednesday night, we thought ‘Why not go see Patrick Wolf? We’re not busy tonight!’ So go see Patrick Wolf we did. His current tour is a reprieve of last year’s 10-year-celebratory acoustic tour.
We suppose arranging to go and see a concert in such a last minute way leads to low expectations. There was literally no time to think about what songs he might or might not sing, we were more worried about not getting lost on the way (which we did) and where to park our car (which we also did, eventually, after driving around half of Norwich). Perhaps this is why we think the concert was an outrageous success; our low expectations.
The venue, an intimate converted Church, couldn’t have held many more than 100 people. There’s something about Patrick Wolf that makes everybody just shut up and gawp at him in complete and utter awe. We don’t think we’ve ever been to a concert before where the lights have gone down and there was literally silence. Perhaps Patrick Wolf commands such levels of respect. Perhaps it says more about the demographic of a Patrick Wolf concert, particularly one in such a middle-class venue. Either way, it was interesting to observe.
We must confess to not being big fans of acoustic things generally. We much prefer things at full-production, with so many layers to treat your ears to, so many new things to be discovered on each listen. Indeed, we have completely disregarded Kylie’s Abbey Road album (and indeed Patrick’s own Sundark & Riverlight album) because of this preference.
But honestly, this concert was just spine-tingling good. Goose-pimpling good.
Set-list wise, Patrick seemed to favour Lupercalia, with Armistice, William, The City, House, Time of My Life, The Falcons, Bermondsey Street all making an appearance. Whilst this played right to our tastes, seeing as Lupercalia was the album that got us into Patrick, and because we have yet to fully explore his back catalogue, we did notice a few fans looking a bit cheesed-off at this obvious bias towards newer material.
Nonetheless, Patrick proved himself to be more than up to the task of entertaining whilst talking to the crowd; he jollily admitted that for many years he didn’t know how to sweep, he referenced the passing of gay marriage (to cheers from the audience, of course). And it seems fair to say sexuality seemed to be the driving force behind the setlist, a common theme to all the songs. He also was surprisingly honest whilst discussing his (now broken) relationship with someone [we assumed it was William at the time but perhaps he was referring to someone further back in his past?]; he seemed to be still hurting from the experience in any case. The rawness of this shocked us a little; for some reason we thought he didn’t discuss his private life, that he guarded it. He also bantered about his new guitar, an upgrade for his ukulele now that he is 30. Whilst apologising for the amount of tuning he had to do (which, really, was a joy to watch) he snapped one of the strings, and promptly had to change the plan of which song to do next.
Of course, the whole point of Patrick Wolf is that he does play so many instruments himself, in addition to writing and production, and the acoustic setting seemed eager to highlight this fact, with Patrick playing at least 4 different instruments throughout the night (we won’t embarrass ourselves by trying to name them and getting them wrong!) But highlight this it did, you can see the musical talent pouring out the end of the man’s fingertips, which is truly amazing to watch. I think you don’t even have to be a fan of his music to appreciate just how talented he is. It’s there, right in front of you.
We appreciate that Patrick did ‘The City’ as his last (encore) song – again, never before have we been to a gig where at least one person hasn’t shouted out ‘encore’ or ‘one more song’, which was respectful but also odd – particularly as he changed the lyrics to include ‘Norwich’ in the song, and babbled on about Norwich, teapots, antiques and some of his friends.
However, our favourite song was (strangely) one we haven’t heard before, although we do have the album on order, – The Magic Position. This was performed ‘mash-up’ style with Bermondsey Street, although really it was just one song seguing seamlessly into the other, and it was just the highlight of the concert for us. It was pure delight for us.