Live: Patrick Wolf. Birmingham Academy 2. 25/3/11. 8/10

Quite why Patrick Wolf has never managed to forge a place in the mainstream consciousness is somewhat of a mystery. The flamboyancy is there, as is the pop sensibility. If he is ever to make that crossover, one can’t help but feel that now is his time.

Striding confidently onto the stage in the kind of outfit David Bowie was wearing in the eighties, he opens with new song ‘Time Of My Life’, a triumphant statement of intent, which sees Wolf moving on from the darkness of his past. If this is a sign of what’s to come on his forthcoming album, then that long-awaited acceptance from a mainstream audience surely beckons.

Although tonight is an opportunity to showcase some new songs, old favourites such as ‘The Libertine’ and ‘To The Lighthouse’ sound as fresh and innovative as they did all those years ago.  Never one for restraint, things get a bit steamy as Wolf stalks the stage like some sort of sexual predator during ‘Tristan’ and ‘Vulture’.  When he’s in this kind of mood, there are few performers who can rival him when it comes to excitement and drama.

Following a remixed version of ‘Hard Times’ Wolf returns to the stage to explain that his silence between songs is down to illness and that he shouldn’t even be on stage tonight. The show goes on regardless, and we’re treated to a rousing encore, kicking off with new single ‘The City’, which receives one of the biggest cheers of the night. Justifiably so too – it’s an unashamed love song which is surely destined for heavy radio rotation throughout the coming weeks. An extended version of ‘The Magic Position’ follows, which is the perfect way to close an uplifting and thrilling set.

Although in the past, Patrick Wolf has been known for his dark subject matter, his outlook has changed and he is developing into one of the country’s finest live performers as a result. His forthcoming album Lupercalia has been billed as a celebration of love; tonight, he has captured that perfectly.


From Craig Jones


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