"Summer" Festival Fun in East London
It must definitely be festival season. In the days leading up to The 1-2-3-4 Shoreditch Now Music Festival all weather reports suggested that the last Sunday of July would be a nice sunny day. It was overcast, it was raining and it was windy. However, this didn't stop the crowds flocking to Shoreditch park to see the double barrel head liners of the Converse Music Stage - The Rakes and Patrick Wolf.
Following an afternoon of live music, Patrick Wolf arrived on-stage shortly after 19:00 when the rain was perhaps at his worst. The singer's appearance in a rather flamboyant outfit – Birdlike comes to mind – certainly cheered up the waiting crowd. The feathers were quickly removed revealing an equally flamboyant black and white Union Jack one piece that revealed a sun painted on his chest.
'Enough about clothes!' I hear you cry, 'What about the music?' Well, once Wolf was playing it was definitely his music that did the talking. He has a great voice, and is an accomplished musician – perhaps demonstrated the most with the Violin during 'Damaris' Other highlights included 'The Bachelor' and 'The Libertine'
Patrick Wolf is an excellent showman and there's arguably an influence from Morrissey in his demeanour and stage presence Almost every song was introduced with a story about what it meant. The crowd seemed to hang on his every word during each of these tales – well aside from one person who felt the need to throw a can of beer at Wolf while he was explaining The Bachelor. This didn't go down well at all and Wolf had some strong – if tongue in cheek – words for the aggressor. The crowd loved it. Patrick Wolf was extremely impressive he certainly has the potential to go far.
Despite the persistent rain, the crowd remained in a jovial mood thanks to the entertainment thanks to the DJ's while waiting for The Rakes to appear. Perhaps surprisingly, front man Alan Donohue wasn't as sharply dressed as usual wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a jacket. This was probably a good thing as it's rather easier to cause on stage mayhem in casual wear than it is in a suit. The rest of the band were sharply dressed – as always – and they opened with 'You're In It' from their latest album 'Klang' with it's punchy lyrics - “You're exceptional at being sexual, it's just a ritual that women do to get men” - it set the tone for the rest of the set.
The Rakes played tracks from each of their three albums with a raw, punky sound - Donahue was certainly a lot shoutier than he was in the recording studio. He likes talking to the crowd between tracks and he likes to bother the other members of the band during songs – the chemistry between them was evident during the show. And of course it isn't a Rakes gig if Donahue doesn't partake in some rather entertaining robot dancing.
The gig will have certainly pleased the faithful with fan favourites such as '22 Grand Job' and 'The World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect' The crowd managed to take 'Violent' quite literally with the particularly manic mosh pit that erupted (Not a good place to be when you're a reviewer clutching a notebook and pen...)
There was essentially something for everyone and the band showed that they still have the energy of 'Capture/Release' while on-stage. They also seemed genuinely appreciative that fans turned out to see them with Alan giving a lot of thumbs ups and saying many thank you's. They ended with a powerful rendition of 'Strasbourg' the opening track from their first album.
The only disappointment was that there was no encore. However the crowd dispersed very quickly – probably in order to get out of the rain – so it was understandable.
A quick mention must go to Polly Scattergood who played earlier in the afternoon. For such a tiny lady she has a powerful voice that was well suited to her brand of psychedelic electro-synth pop. Keep an eye on her.
The 1-2-3-4 was certainly a fun experience for music lovers – it's just a shame that the weather wasn't kind. Oh well, maybe the sun will shine on Shoreditch Park next year.
(Published on Gobshout July 27th 2009)