Rufus Wainwright – Live Review

Nick Gomez

From a young age I've constantly been reading, writing, drawing and generally creating stories, worlds and characters for fun. This led to a degree in English Literature and Language at University. A passion for writing, especially about my own experiences, and ideas that pop into my head help me to understand myself and the world around me.
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Since the first eerie notes in his voice on ‘Hallelujah’, I knew I was listening to something special. Granted, that was in part due to the plot developments of the season one finale of The O.C., but his unique drawly tone called me to attention. It still makes me shiver with anticipation and I feel the emotional rollercoaster at the heart of the song every times I listen to it.

This was the first time I’d heard Rufus Wainwright and it is one of the first times that I remember searching and searching for more information on an artist with such drive and need. Eventually, I got a copy of his album Poses, which gave me a taste of another side to his music and my love was born.

Rufus has gone through many different iterations of himself, very much influenced by the changes in his life; namely going from wild nights of drink, drugs and (s)excess to a new, matured stability and a husband.

Vibrate: The Best of showcases the different times in his life, through the songs that exemplify them. His show in the same way, took a journey though old and familiar to new, unreleased and personal…but I get ahead of myself.

Before Rufus even began, the audience (most of them anyway, some didn’t come for the opening act apparently,) were treated to the charming words and beautiful singing of his sister, Lucy Wainwright Roche and his guitar.

She was most pleased because she was finally in a country where the audience spoke the same language as her, having been through most of eastern Europe. Her sweet comedic request for questions brought out the best and most outspoken in the crowd and this happy combination had us all singing along with greater and greater enthusiasm by the end of her thirty minute set. Of course, she knew and we knew who the main attraction; and attractive he is, we were waiting for with baited breath was.

Side note, I would like to point out that I hadn’t given much thought before hand to what sort of audience he would bring out; probably because I feel such a personal connection to his music that I never thought to, so I was intrigued to find a broad range of ages, including families and a mix of sexualities; there was one very eager not so straight man who couldn’t stop himself yelling ‘‘WE LOVE YOU RUFUS’’ at the finale and each encore, in attendance.

Walking on, Rufus launched straight into GreyGardens. It’s the perfect show starter. It’s a little upbeat and has the approachability of a pop hit that settled the audience into the show, also one of my favorites, it broke the emotional seal. Rufus has arrived.

As much of the tour before the solo London date had been across eastern Europe, Rufus pointed out that his outfits had to remain relatively… heterosexual. Thank goodness for being back in the UK though! Here he can don a sparkly jacket and butt hugging, ‘‘they make my ass look good’’ shimmering skinny trousers. You have to admire a stylish man.

After a few more classic hits from the new album, Rufus commented that by traveling without a band he was able to play whatever he wanted in the show. Tonight, we were to be treated with two unreleased songs.

The first was a love song for his husband about missing him while on tour, called ‘Argentina’. This song had a lot of heart and a touch of humor. The second was about friendship and love and how the two can intertwine. A typically Wainwright somber joy, it suggests that after his last; more cheerful album, his future songs will be returning full circle to sweet melancholy.

Other highlights in the show included: Rufus singing in French; dedicating the track to attendee Jean-Paul Gaultier. There is just something about that man signing in French…as well as, the moving, unaccompanied rendition of ‘Candles’. This allowed the audience to bathe in the pure talent that exudes from Rufus, especially when he performs in such an uncomplicated way.

Now, as some of you may know, Rufus’s first opera Prima Donna has been on tour and now he wants to have it recorded. However, there isn’t the funding for opera recordings that there once was (I know, shocking) meaning that he is trying to fund the recording through: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/primadonna.

As part of this, you can donate and get the chance to sing along to ‘Hallelujah’ on stage, along with various other rewards. The first Hallelujah Chorus, as he’s calling it, took place at this very performance in London and was a lovely finale for the show.

Then there were the encores. Yes, encoreS. Rufus returned to the stage to copious applause; and more screams of adoration from the energetic gentleman a row behind me. He then sang two of my favorite songs, ‘Poses’ and ‘The Art Teacher’. The latter is such a nostalgic, beautiful and bittersweet tale of the youthful understanding of love and lust which shows off, for me, the best of Rufus Wainwright.

I can honestly say, this was one of the best concerts I have every been too. I was hooked from the first note, hearing it and seeing him play right in front of me was awe-inspiring. I’ve never been so gripped by one artist the way I am with Rufus. His skill and varied musical abilities are balanced with a slightly camp and humorous side. He is friendly and fun while being extremely talented and proud of his accomplishments.

If you ever get to see him, you’ll fall in love with his music all over again.