Music Review: St Mary’s Church: Abi Wade & Patrick Wolf

Graham Robson December 13, 2012

Abi Wade

Cellist, vocalist and percussionist Abi Wade mesmerized as support for Patrick Wolf within the glorious, yet rather chilly, setting of St Mary’s Church in Kemptown.

The Brighton-based musician who styles herself simply as “Cello, Box, Voice” opened her set with the broody Heavy Heart, which ran the gamut from tender to tribal.

Her songs pulsate not only due to the strings, but the percussion she operates with her feet; she is simply a one-woman traveling band! So much so that for the crystalline A Bit Like Love she peeled herself away from the cello, and instead took to the piano with natural deftness.

Her chilly, boozy vocals were in perfect matrimony to the sanctuary of St Mary’s, while her arms flailed and painted the air in scepter-like Kate Bush abandon.

The intimacy of the performance, and the staid audience, may have contributed to nerves, which served her with wide-eyed vulnerability, a delightful juxtaposition when she stabs you in the back with her twisted lyrics in the shadow of candle light.

Indeed, she delights in sticking the knife in during Faker, with the wicked lyrics: “you twist and snarl with a tiger’s heart!” As if butter wouldn’t melt!

The moody Perfect Form finished off her set, with its tempo veering from that of a funeral procession to the jangling of a circus troupe.

Patrick Wolf’s Ten Year Celebration was just that, an acoustic retrospect of cherry picked fan favourites pulled from his albums Lycanthropy (2003, which is actually 9 years ago) to this year’s Sundark and Riverlight.

Joined by a violin and accordion the show had the feeling of a Farewell Tour, namely Cher’s, in that it never seemed to end!

In metal-chain mail, the once-Golden Boy of pop covered bases with the crowd pleasing Tristan, which shook the church’s foundations, to To The Stars, which was dedicated to (the late) Sir Patrick Moore.

The manic energy of folktronica Hard Times saw its drums and knob-twidling replaced with ukulele; perhaps not so much as benefit to the song, but as to benefit the multi-instrumentalist’s ego.

Together, which once whirled in electric flourishes felt flat and monotonous, while Magic Position (arguably his most famous of songs) was sadly relegated to a cameo within a medley.

Joni Mitchell’s ode to escaping the “crazy scene” of Christmas, River, served as an encore, as did Patrick’s own The City, which saw the oomph of the recorded version evaporate out of the window.

Whilst the pixieish popstar is unarguably a great musical talent, ego-mania, endless babble and aimless anecdotes transcended the quality of music,  extinguishing its spark and rendering it useless.

For more info on Abi Wade, view: Abi Wade Official

For more info on Patrick Wolf, view: Patrick Wolf Official