Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Patrick Wolf @ Café Du Nord, 22 May 2007

Patrick Wolf @ Café Du Nord, 22 May 2007

Patrick Wolf dresses like an oversized schoolboy. On the cover of his new CD, The Magic Position he cavorts in primary colours on a plastic merry go round. His concerns are innocence and experience. His music reminds me of Kate Bush in that it seems to exist in its own world. When I saw he was playing at this small venue I bought a ticket straight away.

The Café Du Nord is near the Castro so I was thinking the audience would be trying to match Patrick Wolf for flamboyance (if this were possible) but it seemed quite a youngish rock crowd. One of the support acts was a DJ, this is usually a bad thing but I enjoyed hearing the disco pop he played. I was happy hearing unfamiliar music until he slipped in some New Order remix and ruined the novelty.

I was feeling tired when the three piece band (drums, double bass, Macintosh plus keyboards) appeared. Patrick Wolf was wearing a ridiculous checked shirt and shorts combination. He started off with red hair, which turned out to be a wig he snatched off dramatically. He played ukulele, piano, violin and theremin.

After a while he got more chatty, possibly as a result of consuming several White Russian drinks. We heard about how he bought his first piano after taking his school to the European Court of Justice for discrimination; how his second piano got left behind when he split form his previous partner.

His red hair and physique inevitably recalls David Bowie. There is an element of acting to what he does, when he pulled his shirt up over his head it was dramatic and effective. Eventually the shirt came off and he was throwing himself around. I liked the poppier newer songs better. Some of the older songs were heartfelt and scary.

After a short break for a costume change (including a new pair of shorts) he was back. This time he had an American flag that he used as a prop. There was a story about being in Texas and a little bit of bashing of our dear President, and comparisons with present company. San Francisco audiences really like it when they get a bit of flattery and when Patrick gave some love the audience got more into it too.

An encore required finding a particular song file on the Mac. The audience gasped in horror when it heard that the Mac was running OS9, a rather old version of the Mac’s operating system. Fortunately the song was found so we got to hear the 80’s disco pop classic Feels Like I'm in Love (as made famous by Kelly Marie).

This was a great gig. Partly this was because of seeing a great talent in such a small venue. I liked the music, the show was a great spectacle, and Patrick Wolf is a sweetie.

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