The Queen of quirky returned to town in the finest of fashion at the Philharmonic, Getintothis’ Craig MacDonald witnesses Rufus Wainwright in winningly eccentric form.
As the rain pours down on a dreary sodden Monday night, a faint glimmer of light glows brightly from the boards of the The Philharmonic Hall as the gracious peacock of song, Rufus Wainwright, glides on to the stage. The New Yorker is back in a familiar city to promote his Best-of LP Vibrate as he regales his fondness for his surroundings: “I feel like I live in this theater, I’ve played it so many times. It feels like home”.
There’s a definitively homely feel to tonight’s supporting acts, the first of which is Max Jury. The Iowa native crafts heartfelt songs that sound like what may have happened if Lana Del Rey and George Harrison had the chance to meet. On Home, his soulful voice is hauntingly beautiful and his set tonight would have won him many new fans.
The other support for tonight’s proceedings was the half-sister of tonight’s headliner, Lucy Wainwright Roche. Providing endearing stories of her recent travels, she charms the audience throughout her brief set that feels at times more like a compere then an artist in her own right. But, when she does treat us with a song, her voice is pure and cuts through the audience like a sword sent from the heavens, even during a curious version of Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart.
Even before he breaks into the first notes of Beauty Mark, you get the feeling that the audience are in the palm of Rufus Wainwright’s hand as he embarks on a career-spanning set. His voice is emotive yet powerful and the stripped back show highlights the talent that oozes from him. On the charismatic Vibrate his range is astounding and he easily switches between tinkling the ivories to the authoritative Out of The Game.
Another stunning example of Wainwright’s expertise comes in the form of the aria Les Feux D’Artifice from his fan-funded first opera Prima Donna. Sung with conviction entirely in French, it’s easy to see why his peers hold him in such high regard;Elton John proclaiming him to be “the greatest songwriter on the planet”.
There is an element of cabaret, literally, when Wainwright beings out his half-sister and Jury as Liza Minelli and Judy Garland respectively with the former helping to her half-brother during an outrageous rendition of Gay Messiah. With Lucy Wainwright looking like a drag version of Tracey Thorn that has been on a session for days, it reminds us of the quirkiness that burns within Rufus Wainwright that he uses to his advantage.
With the set drawing to a close an impeccable Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk is one of a number of songs that is momentarily interrupted by the showman’s curry repeating on him. He doesn’t let this diminish his efforts and continues to plough through leaving us all cheering for more. On another fabulous night exemplifying his extraordinary talent, Rufus Wainwright proved he can turn even the darkest of days into glorious splendour.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Sakura Zilla.