Patrick Wolf is now well known for his pop eccentricities, and is one of the big highlights on Sheffield Union’s gig listings for the autumn term. In support Cocknbullkid fit the pop profile well, Anita Blay’s vocals of a pop songstress with more guts than most acts in today’s charts has her shoulders adorned with a shawl of fur balls. Combined with a lyrics such as “Hold on, to your neuroses, I need them and they need me”, it gives an indication of why she’s so highly regarded in her native London.
Visually Patrick Wolf always impresses, tonight isn’t an exception, wearing a spotted black and white shirt/blouse, a snuggly fitting red jacket and glittery ear plugs, the look matches the confident performer’s on stage persona and sends the eager crowd into a fit of applause. Continuing the theme of fluffy balls the microphone stand was draped in them whilst a lit up dolls house formed part of the backdrop and a harp and keyboard draped in a Patrick Wolf flag hinted at what was to come.
The saxophone, two violins, keyboard and metal drummer are an interesting combination but not one that intrudes on the style of the singer songwriter, it’s the mish mash of styles that draws people in tour after tour. It takes a few tracks for the audience to fully warm to the band, and about the same for Patrick to truly warm to the audience. It took until breakthrough hit ‘Accident and Emergency’ before the gig came truly alive, which was celebrated by Patrick’s tie becoming an impromptu headband.
After this though, frequent impromptu changes of the set list dominated by new album Lupercalia, sometimes dictated by Patrick, other times by random requests from the crowd turned the gig into something almost farcical. Whilst the tunes were well received, the frequent and indecisive gaps in the set led to a lack of fluidity in the set and the opportunity for a short question and answer session turned into more demands more obscure tracks and drunken silliness from the crowd who were growing restless. There’s no doubting Patrick has more than his fair share of die-hard fans and the applause tonight was often drowned out by the screams more familiar for Olly Murs than the more credible self-styled theatrical performer.
Leaving the stage without a satisfactory end led to the inevitable encore with a costume change, not many people can get away with coming back onto stage with a dead bird their shoulder but the earlier fitful performance was forgiven as he dipped back into his back catalogue with ‘Magic Position’ and finished with Lupercalia opener ‘The City’. As a performer and songwriter he can’t be doubted but the emotional side of his act will continue to put the neutral fans off seeing him more than once, hopefully by the time his 6th album comes round he can convince as more than a talented but inconsistent performer.