Rufus Wainwright returned last night to Vicar Street to dazzle his adoring fans with yet another evening of great music, as is always the case, as well as to promote his new album, Out of the Game. Will Fleming has more…
Through the complete darkness, save for the dim glow of candles, appeared a figure onstage. As he began to sing a somber melody, unaccompanied by music or light, it became clear that the performance had really begun…
Once the opening number concluded, the venue exploded into light, revealing the performer. He stood before the audience, arms folded, clad in sunglasses and an outfit whose vibrancy would mirror the enjoyment of the imminent show. The band then broke into ‘Rashida’, an energetic number from the new album, bringing the American-Canadian singer to life. As he grasped the microphone and swayed with the music, his passion and aura were reminiscent of Freddie Mercury or Elton John.
From the beginning, Wainwright immediately displayed his incredibly meticulous pitch, not missing or scuffing a single note in the most difficult of his intricate vocal melodies. Whether fast-paced or slow-burning, old or new, every song was performed with utmost discipline and charisma to boot. Despite being on the final leg of his tour, there was absolutely nothing to suggest that he was weary of singing the same songs over and over, and even less of an indication that performing live was becoming boring.
The set was a mixture of the back catalogue, such as ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk’, ‘Grey Gardens’ and the new material, such as ‘Respectable Dive’ which made for some phenomenal juxtapositions within the show. Although his new album constitutes a newer, more mainstream sound for the singer, there are little idiosyncrasies prevalent in it which revert back to his earlier albums. This allowed for the past and present hits to become interchangeable throughout the set and still complement each other perfectly.
Some of the older tracks, most notably ‘The Art Teacher’, which featured just Rufus, his piano, and a harrowing musical bond between the two, provided intimate respite from the energetic, big sound of his brand new work. All the while, the music was furnished with flamboyant anecdotes and humorous commentary, completing the experience for the audience.
Rufus was not the only talent to grace the Vicar Street stage last night however. His rhythm guitar player, Teddy Thompson, was the first supporting act of the night, playing and singing Wainwrightesque tunes with just an acoustic guitar, though with a subtle country influence. It was Garth Brooks meets John Mayer, and thoroughly enjoyable at that. The second support act was Adam Cohen, son of Leonard, who wooed the romantics of the audience with deeply emotional love songs and sometimes nauseating lyrics.
The pinnacle of Wainwright’s performance was, surprisingly, not a string of golden oldies, but rather three songs from the new album in succession. Each one, ‘Out of the Game’, ‘Jericho’ and ‘Perfect Man’ were lively and even incited some audience members to get up and dance. The lyrics “making all the roses bloom in unison”, seemed a fitting description of what the passionate performer was doing with his beautiful voice.
At the beginning of the show, he admonished that the night’s proceedings would “morph into something really, really gross and sick”, and that proved to be the exact opposite of how the audience could describe the night. It was a wonderful performance from an incredibly talented musician, and one which will be remembered fondly by so many.