I can’t recall how I discovered most of the music that populates my iTunes library, but I distinctly remember how I first found Patrick Wolf. I was studying abroad in Clermont-Ferrand in 2006 and would go to the mediatheque every other day and check out a handful of randomly selected CDs. I didn’t have the internet in the dorms, so listening to the new music was my late night activity. Patrick Wolf’s Wind in the Wires was one of these. I remember selecting the CD case with the face of a beautiful boy, who looked about 15 (I think he was actually 22), staring with such intention. When I later listened I was struck by the scratchy old world sounds thrown together in arrangements that were oddly classical for their obvious rock roots. I later went on to obsess over each album he released, from the surprisingly exuberant The Magic Position to the darkly electronic Bachelor. However, I’d never had a chance to hear the London-based musician live. Luckily, last weekend he played two nights at the intimate Le Poisson Rouge with the amazing Justin Vivian Bond, and we got to witness an impressive and endearing acoustic performance.
Wolf’s baritone voice was just as gorgeous in person as on his records, as he played songs from all five of his albums, including his newest release Lupercalia. I actually loved songs like “Together” and “The City” even better stripped down to the simplest instrumentation, leaving just their openly touching lyrics with splices of violin and piano. Things that I would usually find intolerable from other musicians, like stopping in the middle of a song for rambling banter, just made Wolf’s performance more honest and adorable.
Also, I can’t write this post without saying how awesome opener Justin Vivian Bond was. The transgender singer, who prefers the gender-free pronoun v, was fantastic and wryly entertaining. I need to keep an eye out for more of Bond’s shows. I can’t find any videos from the concert, but check out Bond’s performance of “The New Depression” from another show: