Last night, I saw Patrick Wolf at the Bloomsbury Theatre, a gig which could have been very very special indeed. Two sets - the first old favourites, the second a preview of his new album, The Magic Position.
Dressed in the campest black outfit ever conceived, Patrick rattled through a greatest hits, somewhat too fast, as if he were eager to get down to the business of the night and get these old ones out of the way. Demolition and The Childcatcher were incredible, as soaring and perfect as you would expect. But other songs, such as The Libertine and Wind in the Wires were rather half-hearted.
The second set was what we were all waiting for, and, for me, it came as a shock and disappointment. Patrick had gone for a dramatic costume change during the interval - changing to a faded blue denim outfit, and dying his hair blonde - a signal that his dark days are over. His new songs, for the most part, are 'happy' - upbeat, but lyrically weak, and, to be honest, not very good.
Title track 'The Magic Position' was fun, but do we really need Patrick Wolf to be Belle & Sebastian? He proudly announced that there would be two duets on the album. One, excitingly, would be with Marianne Faithful on 'Magpie' - I look forward to hearing this on the album, as, though lyrically cliched, it was one of the high points of the new set. The second would be with Edward Larrikin, who OMG CAME ON STAGE!!11!!!!1
I have never seen such hysterical enthusiasm for such a talentless berk, and the following 'duet' (on which the man unfathomably dressed as a Victorian street urchin sang four lines) was instantly forgettable.
The lowest point in the set was a song which Patrick introduced by saying 'This is a song I wrote in Disneyland'. Instead of a song detailing paedophilia, childhood nightmares and the horror of capitalism, we got a light lounge-jazz piece titled 'Enchanted', in which he waxed lyrical about 'magic kingdoms' and the like.
Set closer 'The Stars' (which he premiered at the Scala this Halloween) was beautiful and uplifting, but after everything that preceeded it it seemed like a poor apology. An encore of 'Paris' and 'Tristan' (but why no 'Bloodbeat'?) were pleasing, but I came away with nothing more than a sense of wanting to grab Patrick by his little pixie ear and shouting 'you know you can do better than this! What are you playing at?!'
Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?