Gig review: Patrick Wolf, Glasgow

Patrick Wolf helmed a sparse though inherently dramatic affair. Picture: Contributed
Patrick Wolf helmed a sparse though inherently dramatic affair. Picture: Contributed
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“I like an extreme weather warning,” claimed Patrick Wolf as the storm closed in around his solstice-themed Night of Winter show.

Patrick Wolf - Oran Mor, Glasgow

* * * *

One can only imagine what kind of seasonal extravaganza this flamboyant troubadour might have come up with were he able to command Lady Gaga-level budgets but, after ten years in the business, this erstwhile boy wonder is still a strictly cult concern, so instead he helmed a sparse though inherently dramatic affair spotlighting “the winter realms of his songwriting”.

In practice, this meant a starring role for his puckish charms and rich, somewhat mannered voice, accompanied by the tinny timbre of his tenor guitar, Willemwiebe Vandermolen on accordian, Greg Cortez on double bass and occasional guest spots from harpist Serafina Steer. Victoria Sutherland threatened to steal the show on soulful, soaring violin, adding a Celtic flourish to Pigeon Song and an urgent baroque veneer to Hard Times.

None of his own material quite matched up to the mastery of Joni Mitchell’s The River, covered during the encore, although torch ballad Armistice and the exultant Magic Position came close. Rather, it was the carefree personality invested in the performance which made this such a pleasurable show, whether Wolf was revisiting a naïve, twinkling backing track created 14 years ago, dedicating the gleefully overwrought gypsy soul of The Libertine to a nation contemplating independence, or abandoning the planned setlist to deliver the Hurricane Bawbag theremin remix of This Weather.