March 23, 2009
Live Review: Patrick Wolf
The spikey-haired one-man cabaretrefuses to come quietly. The Junction, Cambridge, Tuesday, March 10
Do I look like a terrorist with this scarf?” asks a coquettish Patrick Wolf towards the end of the show, while wrapping a red and white keffiyeh around his head. That would be a no, Patrick, not least because terrorists don’t generally dress in ’80s sex-club chic, topless apart from a harness and leather trousers, garnished with a Sarah Harding-style platinum razor haircut. But let’s take you back to the beginning of the night, to when Patrick bounds onstage with a massive black cape resting over colossal shoulder pads, creating the kind of silhouette that would have David Byrne seething with jealousy. As always with Patrick Wolf, it’s the clothes that maketh the man, and tonight they’re the icing on an already extravagant and delicious cake. The cape comes off to reveal a porcupine-spiked jacket and those leather kecks. Brandon Flowers: look and learn.
Leaning upon a lectern, Patrick delivers a ferocious ‘Tristan’, harder and tougher than ever before. He keeps up the same dark intensity for new song ‘Battle’, which conjures up all manner of early-’80s seedy New York performance art dives; the frail, ukulele-plucking youth in a tank top has been well and truly exorcised. Loosening his clip-in blond plait, and with a mini microphone strapped to his face, if Patrick’s channelling anyone tonight, it’s Madonna on her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour. He’s got the diva-esque moves too, writhing on his knees and lovingly playing with his locks. For an encore of ‘Bloodbeat’ and ‘Vulture’, there’s even a full costume change incorporating a face of pink glitter and winged cape. At times, he’s crawling, beast-like across the floor, venting enough raw emotion and passion to land him the lead in a West End musical. When Gareth Gates has finished doing Joseph, Andrew Lloyd Webber should give Patrick a call.
Though disco bangin’ new single ‘Hard Times’ should be the night’s high point, it’s Patrick’s heartfelt rant against the “fascist media” that wins out. Ticking off Heat, who’ve accused Patrick of being too fat to perform, he proudly rants about weight, sexuality and race oppression in one fell swoop, before yelling “Let’s get fat and let’s get happy!” Giving his belly an affectionate squeeze, he skips into a thrilling, no-laptop version of ‘Accident & Emergency’. The Wolf boy’s teeth are sharper than ever.
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