I've never done anything like this before. I've always wanted to, but, I never had the money to do it. I STILL don't have the money, but.. I felt this sense of urgency. I wanted to have this experience. I wanted the chance to show my support. After some financial planning and discussion I booked two tickets to London. I scored two 11th row center stall seats for Patrick Wolf at the London Palladium! I'm going to England!
The trip over was easy and exciting. I'd never been to England- and Dave, my love of SEVEN YEARS has never been outside the US- hell- he's never been on a plane! This trip was about new beginnings and celebrations. That's the terms Dave and I agreed upon. This trip was a gift to each other celebrating our births, our 7 year anniversary, and our holidays. We would give each other what we wanted...
We went for a stroll in the infamous English rain. We ate copious amounts of delicious pub food. We saw Westminster Abbey, the House of Parliament, Big Ben, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and Tower Bridge. We went to record shops where I bought some rare nine inch nails vinyls. We saw the Rosetta Stone, and the fine art of Michelangelo, DaVinci, Klimt, Titian, and Reubans... we even discovered a new artist- Jose Guadalupe Posada. I shared a new experience in a new land with the love of my life and it only got better from there.
After a day of seeing Tower Bridge and exploring the impressively creative Spitafields in the East End (Brooklyn EAT YOUR HEART OUT) we hopped on the Tube and headed to the Palladium Theatre just outside Oxford Circus. We were weary from a long fun-filled day... but I couldn't help but be excited!!
We stepped inside the building and I was immediately entranced by its regal beauty. It was as if I was transported back in time to a nobler era where more interesting and well dressed people roamed! The swells of avant garde androgynist people commingled with extravagant feathered dames were all about me, drinking cocktails and jabbering away excitedly. The anticipation was palpable. We finally made our way to our seats and I had a moment of sheer euphoria when I realized how close we were.
"I hope he sees me" is all I kept thinking to myself as the lights went down and the sound of Patrick Wolf's music began.
II. Patrick Wolf at the London Palladium
The sound of "Divine Intervention" and Patrick's haunting voice filled the Palladium. The curtains drawn and I take a breath- I hadn't realized I'd been holding it! There are countless musicians surrounding the Gypsy Boy who is beautifully adorned in all his couture finery this evening. There are two cellists, four violinists, 3 choir girls, a sound tech, drummer, bassist, guitarists, and also some VERY special guests this evening. As they all took position and began to play- tears immediately sprung in tiny diamond shaped drops upon my eyes... "Overture" one of the greatest opening songs of my lifetime is what he chose to open with! With the tears welling up, my lips silently mouthing out the words, a hand upon my heart, and by body moving towards the edge of my seat I absorbed every note like a flower to sunlight. Simply put, this song in this gilded antique theatre with my lover at my side in this ancient yet progressively modern city was the best opening song of my life!
Then, like the ocean, the second wave of song came. "Wolfsong". I have a strange bond with this particular tune. For its love and worship of Artemis and her Luna-tics is something I identify with greatly. The tears continued to flow and my hand stayed firmly upon my heart and neck. I wept that much harder as "and don't be afraid of the dark because the darkness is simply a womb for the lonely" was bellowed out. The mark of a great songwriter, for me, is when their words are the very thing I've been trying to say all these years and their music is the complexity of my emotions that can never be put into prose. Patrick Wolf is the voice in my head and the feelings within me fully formed and articulated into a beautiful young man and spirit. He is also my teacher and colleague.
I say all this, because "Wind in the Wires" was the first song of Patrick's that both broke and mended my heart simultaneously... and it came on immediately following "Wolfsong". Clearly, he was trying to make me ruin my makeup! The tears just keep flowing out of me, my emotions too great for my body to bear. I've never been so wistful in all of my life at a concert! Now, I've been an hysterical WRECK and I pull that off with panache- but WISTFUL? It's not usually my style, it's not even something that even looks appropriate with my overbearing personality... or so I thought. Thank you, Patrick, for teaching me that I can be wistfully romantic and not feel like a fool.
After that triad of emotional songs, my heart was on the mend as Patrick picked up the tempo with one of my favorite tracks from his album The Bachelor, "Oblivion". With this set list, I displayed classic signs of schizophrenia- merely one song ago I was wistful and nostalgic- now I find myself pounding away at my chest and attempting desperately NOT to growl or shout! This song has too much energy and fury to contain... it felt so odd to sit and thrash about but I felt strange enough being a New Yorker in London without adding the awkward obviousness of my physical energy plus- if I stood and danced I would've spoiled the view of the person behind me and concert etiquette overrules any rash impulse I might have been feeling.
Luckily, we didn't stay seated for the entire show. The familiar electronic drones of "Hard Times" commenced a little past the halfway mark of the set and I knew then and there that this was the opportunity to stand and give back some of the energy Patrick bequeathed upon me! The crowd responded milliseconds after a few girls and I stood and with that ovation- the tempo of the show IMMEDIATELY transformed. It was as if the show finally disrobed itself of it's stuffy waspy upbringing and it quickly became a true rock concert.
The show played songs that are quintessential to Patrick's short though prolific career. All tracks were glorious whether morose, active, romantic, or playful. The special appearances only further contributed to the charm of the performance. The title track of his most recent album "The Bachelor" is perhaps one of the most powerful ballads of the record and was meant to be a duet. I am glad to say that it was performed as it was intended when the enigmatic Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine took the stage and belted out the lines of "The Spinster" with gusto. It was undoubtedly one of the greatest performances of the evening. Not to be ignored is the enchantingly beautiful "Voice of Hope" as performed by the leggy beauty Gwendoline Christie, her rich and throaty voice was the live superior version Tilda Swinton's vocal performances in such tracks as "Oblivion" and "Theseus", and her silent breathtaking performance with Patrick during "Damaris" had the longing tears coming back again to my weary eyes. The addition of the incredibly handsome Alec Empire made this one of the most diverse and eccentric shows of my concert going life. With every rash throng of electro-clash competing against the harmony of the string section I felt like I was first witnessing a war of sound, then immediately transported into a rowdy peace rally!
Like a shot of adrenalin to my already overactive heart, Patrick's costume changes were the VERY touch of the dramatic that I needed! There was an adorable yet dark & foreboding leather wolf hood, the playful glittery black cloak- which later revealed a porcupine spiked top, then on to a brilliant white pair of spats with a matching Manray-esque cello piece (I think...?) ALL covered in glitter, and my personal favorite- a reflective mirrored top hat with a side of ULTRA reflective fringe~! The show was feel good and feel melancholic, and very much the very nature of love for me. It ended with the "Magic Position" and Patrick at the grand piano, recalling that, 10 years ago, he was outside the London Palladium hysterically crying because he couldn't get in to see Bjork. Now, Patrick is the one on stage at the famous London institution with his family in the boxes (he even pointed and they waved) and his dear friends and fans in the stalls and rafters. He got choked up and said something like "I'm going to cry!!" which made ME feel better about being so weepy. The sentiment was well appreciated, especially by my love and aspiring musician, Dave, who leaned over and whispered into my ear "Wow, that gives me hope..." Hope was the word etched into my heart that night. I am happy to tell you it's still there.
The glorious show finally ended. We waited for the crowds to dissipate before we began to make our trek back to the hotel. We stood outside, talking about the show and what we thought. We started to walk towards the Tube... when I slowed in my tracks and asked Dave for a favor. "Do you mind if we go towards the back stage entrance and check things out? I know Patrick comes out and greets the fans that wait out there..." This is how I know I picked the right guy- jet-lagged beyond BELIEF and ACHING for bed, he sighed once, and said something like, "OK, it's your vacation too- if that's what you want to do..." So, we walked over to the side entrance where there were about 75 people in various "wolf-ian" fashion waiting excitedly. I always wanted to wait after a show to try to catch a glimpse of a musician, maybe get an autograph- but I never had the chance- there was always work or school or some absurd responsibility holding me back from doing it. I was on VACATION I had no where to I had to go the next day- this was my only chance to do something like this! So... we waited.
It got colder. The crowd dissipated. Dave found a folding chair, bundled up, and attempted to sleep. I left him be, moving anxiously from foot to foot. We saw a lot of activity, the stage hands breaking the set down, the musicians slowly filtering out and heading home... Victoria Sutherland, Patrick's right hand lady and violinist popping in and out of the door for a smoke and a chat... but no Mr. Wolf. About an hour in I began to get gnawed away by guilt. "This is SO selfish of me. Look at Dave- he's freezing and exhausted and I am making him SIT HERE just so I can catch a glimpse of one of my favorite musicians! We should just go..." but my interior monologue couldn't budge me from that stairwell. My mind was losing hope, but my body was resolute. My guilt clashed wildly with my interest. "It's already been an hour and fifteen minutes... what's fifteen more, really?"
Then, as I was about to abandon hope, the door opened, and a tall lean man with a mop of platinum blonde hair, wearing a black leather wolf hood emerged with a sharpie in one hand and a glass of white wine in the other, smiling brightly and saying "Hello!". I was SO glad I waited.
As he came closer, he looked each person in the eye... and when his eyes met mine, I was pleasantly surprised to see recognition in his stare- he smiled sheepishly and said, "Hi!". I won't lie to you, it made me feel warm and fuzzy. Everyone cued up and an impromptu meet and greet began. A hearty handshake, and a beaming smile was given to every fan Patrick came in contact with- his graciousness tangible. That's the thing about Patrick Wolf that will undoubtedly carry him directly into the arms of superstardom- anyone who comes into direct contact with him automatically feels like the most special person on Earth, when he looks at you and smiles and asks how you are and where you're from- it makes you feel that you mean something to him and that he cares about you and is interested in what you have to say, all of it genuine, all of it so incredibly pleasing.
I stood off to the side, waiting patiently for my opportunity to say hello and take a picture. I heard a little chat about how he FINALLY found a well made ukulele, and surprisingly, there was a lot of people from Belgium! A very nice young man next to me, said, "After you" and I moved in towards Patrick. The recognition from the music video, the concerts, and twitter all accumulated into this one moment... for as I approached I was met with his big beaming smile.
Without any hesitation Patrick swooped in- wrapped his arms around me and in an exasperatied whisper said "KRISSY!!!". I didn't know what sheer GLEE felt like until that very moment. I'm blushing even now from the kindness of his hug! He managed to make ME feel like the rock star- something that I got to say, felt pretty damn good. From there we launched straight away into a nice little chat. The formalities of "How are you?" turned quickly into a brief review about mine and Dave's first trip to London. We also talked about the show- and how much I loved it, incidentally I asked if it got recorded- and YAY it did, here's hoping it gets released! Patrick recommended we go to the London Dungeon apparently one of his favorite tourist traps in the city... there's more but I kind of went deaf and had "Dream Weaver" playing in my head while he spoke. The night ended with photographic evidence of the encounter and one more electro-charged Patrick Wolf hug before Dave and I hailed a cab and made our journey home to Kensington.
Euphoria from this memorable night, and this incredible trip is still humming through my whole nervous system. This entire year was no doubt the Year of Madame K, and as Patrick Wolf said as we departed, "Happy Christmas, and see you in 2010!".
IV. The Setlist
Wind In The Wires
Count Of Casualty
The Magic Position
The Sun Is Often Out