Rufus Wainwright At Celebrate Brooklyn!

Published on July 30th, 2010 in: Concert Reviews, LGBTQ, Music |

By Maureen

I hadn’t even realized that I had expectations about Rufus Wainwright’s show for the Celebrate Brooklyn! series until I saw it. I guess was expecting some old classic songs, a few new ones, and an opening act by Loudon Wainwright III. What I got, however, was an entirely different experience altogether.

rufus in brooklyn piano by alexandria weinberg
Rufus Wainwright
Photo © 2010 Alexandria Weinberg

Loudon peppered his songs with personal anecdotes, and discussed his feelings about finally winning a Grammy in February, despite having been on the music scene since before I was born. He had some more emotional numbers, including a song about having the blues and sitting alone in a hotel room, but he also had upbeat numbers from his new album, 10 Songs for the New Depression. The latter was what won him the Grammy, and his pride in it showed in his vivacity and the nuances of his performance.

I was surprised at how autobiographical and self-disclosing many of his songs were, especially since I have been more familiar with his role as a bit actor in the Judd Apatow body of work than a folk singer. He had songs about drinking wine with his mother (“Mother Liked her White Wine”), and his emotions and reaction as her number of glasses imbibed slowly escalated. He had songs about the breakup of his family, which seemed awkward to me given Rufus’s headlining status, but the audience was respectful and visibly moved. I very much enjoyed listening to his performance, and have been inspired to seek out more of his body of musical works.

loudon in brooklyn by alexandria weinberg
Loudon Wainwright
Photo © 2010 Alexandria Weinberg

I know that Rufus’s latest album, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, is very emotionally resonant for him, and that he performed the now-infamous “silent show” in the UK to mixed audience reactions. Rufus addressed this, however, after opening the show with “Grey Gardens.” He told us that this was the “summer show,” and applause was encouraged. He also told us about some of his upcoming projects, which I encourage fans to be on the lookout for, especially in the Bay Area.

Rufus also performed several duets with his father, encompassing tracks from each of their respective catalogs. Their musical stylings and skills played off of each other very well, and their mutual respect and admiration for each other was refreshing to see when bitchy behavior and backstabbing are often glorified in celebrity culture.

I was pleased with his repertoire of song choices, with perhaps a few exceptions. I had no idea about his recreation of a Judy Garland concert, and as such, could have done without hearing some of these selections. They definitely showed off his raw vocal talent, but I missed the familiar concert experience of being able to sing along. Other audience members, however, loved this addition, so perhaps I am simply not quite in Rufus’s target demographic.

Perhaps the most unexpected surprise, however, was a song of his mother’s (Kate McGarrigle)—”The Walking Song”—written about one of her early experiences dating Loudon when they were young. The beautiful lyrics and intricate piano were rounded out by the emotional impact they have had and continue to have on Rufus. His love for his mother and respect for her craft was evident in every number her performed, but his performance of this one was touching as well as being high in entertainment value (in the best sense of the phrase). Not an easy thing to accomplish.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the musical, lyrical, and vocal skills of Rufus Wainwright. Although I would have personally preferred more songs from his older albums that I’m more familiar with, I do admire his ability to perform such diverse types of songs while still managing to kick ass. It was a great evening in Prospect Park, and I would definitely consider seeing Rufus and (or) Loudon again in concert.

rufus in brooklyn smiling by alexandria weinberg
Rufus Wainwright
Photo © 2010 Alexandria Weinberg

RELATED LINKS:

Rufus Wainwright, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, Popshifter April 23 2010 Blog

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