The intimate confines of the Sugar Club proved to be the perfect setting for Californian singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe on her first visit to these shores. In front of a near full house, Wolfe delivered a spellbinding set, mixing the ethereal Goth-folk of her most recent album with the more abrasive art rock of her earlier material.
She opened with a number of cuts from 'Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs' - the delicate and eerie 'Spinning Centres' and the yearning 'Flatlands' instantly grabbing the attention of the audience. Wolfe cuts an imposing figure on stage; tall and statuesque with long black hair, she is a striking and captivating presence and by the time she got around to playing the sinister, sickly 'Boyfriend' she had the audience mesmerised, even managing to silence the usual inane bar chatter that is such an unfortunate part of the gig going experience. The arrival of a drummer and guitarist signalled a shift in emphasis for the rest of the set – a brief, instrumental guitar noise workout broke the spell and all of a sudden, we were plunged into the glorious darkness of her second album 'Apokalypsis'. Songs like 'Mer' and 'Moses' have a dark, sexual allure recalling some of PJ Harvey's early work; Wolfe seemed somehow more at home delivering these songs than some of the quieter numbers.
The magnificent 'Movie Screen' with its layered vocal loops and otherworldly noises was scarily good while the crashing guitar chords of 'Pale On Pale' built to the obligatory feedback drenched climax, bringing down the curtain on an impressive and beguiling set. Wolfe and her band returned to the stage for a two song encore, satisfying the appreciative audience's thirst to hear more.
Largely unknown in this part of the world, it is obvious that Wolfe's growing reputation on the Los Angeles music scene had filtered through because this was a remarkably well attended show for a wet Wednesday night in Dublin. Those of us lucky enough to be present witnessed an enthralling introduction to the strange, ethereal world of Chelsea Wolfe.
Review by Paul Page