It doesn’t seem like so long ago that Patrick Wolf swooped in with his unique take on brooding, experimental folk. Time flies, though, and the English singer-songwriter is now on tour celebrating 10 years of music. On Friday, he played Joe’s Pub in New York City, armed with a decade’s worth of songs. (His Thursday performance at the East Village venue was recorded and may be viewed here.)
Wolf is also looking back on his prolific career with a special double album. Entitled Sundark And Riverlight, it features re-imagined versions of songs from his past, including “Teignmouth,” “The Libertine” and “Bluebells.” This retrospective is a special experience for those of us who have followed Wolf through his ever-shifting hair colors and moods, brought to life with a string section. It’s a way of embracing nostalgia while keeping things fresh, allowing him to show how he’s grown as an artist. More charming and personable onstage than the dark fantasies of his early work might have once suggested, he’s not one to shy away from sharing anecdotes about songs, also sharing old home videos.
In addition to long-standing gems like “Paris,” from his 2003 debut LP Lycanthropy, Wolf also dug up rarities like “Pumpkin Soup” and “Penzance” just in time for fall. (He is, after all, the kind of person who gets people shouting “Happy equinox!” at him.) Early favorite “Tristan,” from 2005’s Wind In The Wires, also made an appearance.
Passion inspires passion, and the fanbase that Wolf has maintained over the years is certainly dedicated. However, the most obviously enthusiastic person in the crowd may have been completely new to his work. Someone apparently brought their grandmother, who saw fit to start howling after every song. Well, the aged have earned their eccentricities, right?
Despite some annoyances—Wolf eventually let loose a diatribe on how unaccommodating Joe’s Pub apparently is to artists and declared he would never perform there again—bringing the set to its close with the title track from 2007’s The Magic Position served as a reminder that we should be looking forward to 10 more years.