Patrick Wolf: KOKO, London: Wednesday, October 4
The Wolf in glam clothing takes a bite out of Camden’s glitterati
In a slick glitter-festooned hooded vest and pillar-box red hair, baroque electro-folk superhero Patrick Wolf seems a changed man. Merging new rave sweat-tops with Thamesbeat mop-tops and grinning like an utter loon throughout the show, he’s ditched the sombre, troubled Dickensian-orphan-with-a-sequencer schtick and remodelled himself as a kind of east London warehouse party Liberace. That is if Liberace ever wore velour peddle-pushers with stegosaurus spikes down the side.
“I’m having so much fun!” he squeals after ‘Get Lost’. It’s a party-filled love song for unruly outcasts which melds Polyphonic-Spree giddiness with bouncy-bouncy pop breaks, and sees the newly neon Wolf-man pulling Zoolander poses and grinding against the mic stand, no longer a shy electro poseur, but a fully fledged fun machine. Elsewhere, the pinnacle of this new and jolly repertoire is ‘Magic Position’, an uplifting disco anthem packed with swooping strings which jives like Scissor Sisters partying in 18th century Austria. It’s so goddamn zesty that you could grate it and call it an orange.
Tonight’s not all camp chaos and candyfloss cool though. Backed by haunting, hip-Enya vocals and laptop fiddlery provided by Jo Apps, Patrick gets to grips with an array of instruments, from autoharp to ukulele. He finally settles on a violin to take us through the gorgeous Mary Poppins-style acoustic track, ‘Pigeon Song’. There’s also a voyeuristic peek into his doom-laden days – the dangerous yin to the rest of the night’s pop-tastic yang. ‘Tristan’ is dark, performance rock’n’roll, and, like a RADA auditionist, he gives us pain, he gives us passion and he gives us scary. Most chilling is his rendition of ‘The Child Catcher’, a creepy ode to nonces which sees the singer hoist himself up on to his piano and recline like some saucy lounge singer trilling darkly like The Fabulous Baker Boys crossed with the most unsavoury parts of Lolita.
Tonight he may be dressed in disco-glitter, but there’s no question that Patrick Wolf: The Lycanthropic Marvel still has the darkest of souls.