Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Wolfshank Redemption

It's not like I hadn't heard of Patrick Wolf before last summer. On the contrary, his was a name I'd heard many times, but for some reason I had never bothered to check him out. He, like Deus and Owen Pallett and so many others, was just another indie act that I was content to know I would probably like if I ever did take a listen.

But, as of August 2014, I still hadn't listened to a single Patrick Wolf track. And so it was that I arrived in Cornwall for the Knee Deep Festival with practically zero knowledge of the biggest name on the bill. I strode up to Stage A, eager to find out what I had been missing all these years...

...and, well, the rest is history. Patrick Wolf's solo set was a bit of a shambles, but as I pointed out in my review of the festival, it was a strangely enjoyable spectacle, with each right note and each uninterrupted verse seeming all the more triumphant for being surrounded by such Reinerian calamity on all sides.

And, strangely enough, I am now the proud owner of not one but two Patrick Wolf albums: The Magic Position (2007) and The Bachelor (2009).

It seems bizarre, but I only becoming interested in PW and his back catalogue when I stopped imagining him as some supercool indie untouchable and started seeing him for the man who died a thousand deaths onstage at Knee Deep that night: as a slightly accident-prone misfit with great ideas but rotten luck (and maybe, just maybe, a slight phobia of the rehearsal room).

Against all odds, that hour-long struggle had made Patrick Wolf seem suddenly much more accessible, and in The Magic Position's title track (one of the few songs that did go right at Knee Deep), he had shown me a knockout tune that I simply had to add to my collection:

Better yet, The Magic Position has proved to be just one of Mr Wolf's many great songs: others include Bluebells (also from TMP) and Damaris, Hard Times, and Blackdown (all from The Bachelor). Both of the albums I now own are wonderful, colourful things that mix traditional English/Irish folk influences with electronic edginess and gooey, synth-snogging pop music; not every track is as big a winner as The Magic Position, but even through the lesser tracks, it's practically impossible to get bored - the musical backdrop shifts and refocuses almost constantly, keeping the listener very much on his or her toes.

So, yes - Patrick Wolf's car crash performance at Knee Deep '14 was just the thing I needed to put me on the road to loving him. Having said that, I would now like to see a proper set, perhaps with the full band, and fewer interruptions to dilute the brilliance of his songs. 

1 comment:

  1. as a Patrick fan myself I need to warn you that full band does not guarantee less interruptions/small-talks :)