Patrick Wolf: Big, Big Star

Wolf in sheep's suspenders (Photos by John Payne)

Well, let’s call it rapturous, the response to the Second Coming of Patrick Wolf at the Troubadour Wednesday night. But what the hell is going on? Bespectacled slacker slobs, Jessica Alba replicas and stubbly West Hollywood leather dudes alike literally roared with delight as a comely, carrot-topped boy in checkered fluffy blouse, shorts and suspenders strummed a baritone ukelele, for crying out loud, or sawed (expertly) a viola while flouncing humorously and quite eagerly about the stage, regaling with tales of his so-far (he’s 23) exciting life out on the road in a mystical land called England. The word’s got around since Wolf released his first album, Lycanthropy, to enormous critical huzzahs in the UK and Europe, wherein our hero chronicled the true trials and tribulations of a violin/harp/harpsichord /ukelele/theremin prodigy who’d run away from home at age 16 to join the musical circus. Followup albums Wind in the Wires (2005) on the trendy German Tomlab label and now his brand-new The Magic Position on Low Altitude/Universal, both of which boast incredibly intricate weavings of electronic sound (skills honed on the Atari computer and mixing console Fatcat Records gave him to learn on at age 14), have suddenly proclaimed that arrival of a – no, really – Big, Big Star. Actually Patrick had been ‘round these parts four years ago, on a small tour at age 19, when, as he charmingly revealed, he played at Spaceland and was too young to have a drink but did nevertheless and played a rather loose set. At any rate, the time is now, right now, and onstage Wolf is immediately a super-exhilarating and liberating, even, presence and personality, a thoroughly engaging and witty young fellow who gives the distinct and hugely pleasurable impression of being near literally bursting with life and ideas to share. Hearing the songs on Wolf’s carefully crafted and sonically complex records and then seeing him bring them to such joyous life onstage was a startling thing. His music, played this night with a rigorous bliss by a small ensemble of violin, double bass, drums and laptop, spanned a nice range between sweetly ruminative bits (“Secret Garden” and “Pigeon Song”) to the cocksure “political” dance-thumpers like “Blackbird” -- where he declares “I’m bringing sex back!” and makes it sound like common sense – and a noisily dry-humping finale of “A Boy Like Me” (“a girl like me…”). And “Moon River”? Oh, yes, of course, he covered that one as well.

More pictures of the Patrick Wolf's performance at the Troubadour

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