Friday, July 20, 2007

latitude 2007 - owen and paddy

with his cheeky grin and gentle charisma, owen pallett had most of the audience in complete awe of his beautiful beautiful music. playing in the middle of the woods in the sunrise arena, he tinkered around with foot pedals and looping to create an experience similar (i imagine) to swimming in a sea of liquid heaven. listening to his recording, you don't really get the idea of how much looping is going on, and he adds many extra layers of sound to the live performance. hence it took ages for him to set up, sound-checking all the different loops and each string on each loop - i think it's always a good sign when the artist sets up their own equipment. so, owen came on in his dapper t-shirt-with-tails and slowly started building the layers for his first song. he started with just the bass string on the violin, thumping in the speakers. then, whilst it continued thumping, he played new loops, building the sound thicker and richer. although his speaking voice barely raised beyond a whisper, he had everyone laughing when he suddenly stopped, mid-passage....cheekily grinning again and saying,

"sorry i just forgot something....(pause)...nothing to do with the show, it was about my clothing",

then carried on merrily with the passage, having completely won the attention of the audience. he was definitely the most talented musician i saw all weekend, with an impressively ranging gentle voice, an arresting, yet modest stage presence, obvious talents playing complicated violin passages, but most of all, an amazing ability to coordinate many different loops, playing at different times, whilst simultaneously singing or playing his fiddle. magnificent multi-tasking owen.

after putting up that video, i've just realised that "the dream of win and regine" is referring to the arcade fire lead singers. forgive me if everybody has already worked that out before me, ehem...

he was obviously well aware that his set clashed with jarvis cocker's set on the main stage, and joked around that everyone would probably leave to hear jarvis cocker's one-and-only-hit at the end of his show (he didn't even play common people anyway), then modestly joked about how final fantasy had no hits.

i was lucky enough to be pretty much in the front row and i think the tent was a great setting for him to play in - i think he would be completely lost in a bigger setting or a huge outdoor stage. i definitely recommend his show to anyone who has the chance to see him, as aside from marvelling at his immense skill, he creates a rich and beautiful patchwork of sounds.

at the end of his set, people were shouting for 'the lamb sells condos', and we were not disappointed. i hope you enjoy this video i found on youtube, take notice of him scratching his back with his bow while the sounds still continue - talented, cheeky, and a GREAT show off.

despite being friends and sharing a love for showing off, violins and camp dressing, patrick wolf's performance could not have been more different from final fantasy's modest, quiet performance. always the master of melodrama, patrick was on fine form on friday night on the uncut stage. lapping up the audience's admiration and campingitup to excess, it was definitely the most entertaining show of the weekend. for an idea of his lavish performance style click here (warning: avert your eyes if you are easily offended by naked bottoms). nevertheless, his melodrama was not cringemaking nor irritating, and, like owen, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. at times triumphant, singing loud, soaring passages, at times atmospheric, slow and silent... this was a concert of contrasts and (dare i say it), their combination made for a flawless performance.

my view is perhaps somewhat biased, seeing as i am a huge fan of mr. wolf, but i heard many people speaking highly of the show, and his was the only t-shirt on the merch table that seemed to have run out of most sizes. dark and atmospheric, patrick came on stage to a flutter of dramatic animal noises, dressed in a sparkly blue sailor jacket, with shorts displaying his smooth glittery legs. beginning with 'overture', one of my favourite songs on the album, he improvised around the violin passages, and many more layers were added, making an even richer sound. on stage with him, he had a band playing double bass, horns, drums, percussion, another violin and a guy with a laptop making crazy sounds. the total effect was of massive orchestration and a truly epic sound. his passion is obvious and he jumps around on stage, coming up with dance moves, and general writhing around. he switches between being vampish and dripping with sex to being an excitable schoolboy jumping around like a child.

his volatile personality (which comes across in his emotion-ridden music, and his recent press attention over apparently threatening to quit music) makes for a great show. and he is a clear control freak, from ordering around the band ("more bass drum"), to telling the lighting designer what he wants ("give me some strobe please"), to designing all his t-shirts, and re-tuning his ukulele (to make it deliberately out of tune) whilst on stage, even though we had watched it being painstakingly tuned by a roadie before he came on. yet he does not come across as arrogant, merely passionate and committed to his own sound and image. in between songs, his persona suddenly switches from writhing and howling on stage, to coy conversations with the audience and shy giggles. his show can perhaps best be described as playful, and creative energy was zinging (is that a word?) off him with everything he did, from balancing on the huge amps, to poking the surly security guard in the back of the head as they watched out over the unruly audience.. this was obviously a highlight, seeing as security guards at concerts are usually the spawn of the devil.

'tristan' had the audience (embarassingly) acting like lusty teenagers as he oozed sex appeal and dove into the crowd. it was funny that a mixed sex audience mostly over the age of 20 were reaching out desperately to touch him and screaming like crazy. beatlemania meets patrick. haha. other highlights were the uptempo 'get lost' and a quadruple-time version of 'the libertine'. halfway through the show, he turned the tent into a rave and did a brilliant cover of rihanna's (awful) song 'umbrella.' he then brought the tempo down for 'the stars', gently slowing the audience right down with the swirl of a mirrorball - it was magical. finishing with 'magic position', the audience went crazy and were screaming for more of this emotionally unpredictable loaded cannon. he jokes about how he would love to have a show with pyrotechnics and moving stages, but his melodramatic performances would be merely comical if they didn't match his music, which, despite being hugely melodramatic itself, is undeniably filled with fiercely honest autobiography.

there are two good interviews here and here, the latter with owen pallett interviewing patrick wolf. buy the magic position (and other patrick wolf stuff) here; he poos clouds and other final fantasy gear available here. all video footage in this post was found on youtube.

final fantasy - "many lives -> 49 mp" (houston, 8/17/06 - get the whole show from lullabyes)
patrick wolf - "moon river & the stars" (recorded live at xfm)

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