Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Wainwrights Strike Back

Hi everyone,

You might remember that I saw Rufus Wainwright with his sister Lucy in concert at 930 club for the first time in 2013. It was so fantastic that I vowed to see them whenever they returned. Last April, they did, performing at Lincoln Theatre this time. This historic venue is located a few blocks away from 930 and is owned by the same people. Lincoln Theatre is bigger and  fancier than 930 and therefore, to me, seems better suited for Rufus Wainwright. By this time, I'd met a friend who has been a fan of his for years and had seen him in concert many more times than me. She joined me for this show, and we scored a pair of VIP seats in the left-side stage-level box located about a foot away from the performance space. We were already thrilled, and the show hadn't even started yet.

Like last time, Lucy Wainwright Roche opened the show in her delightful way, discussing random topics and asking if we had any questions or comments between songs. At one point, she mentioned Ben's Chili Bowl and how she didn't have a chance to eat before the show. Someone in the crowd offered to get her some food, and a debate began among audience members about whether to get her meat or vegetarian chili. Then she talked about recently playing at Jammin Java in Vienna, Virginia, but no one showed up. She asked us where she should play next time to ensure a full audience. This started another debate with people yelling out various venues and reasons why they're good and bad. She stopped us and suggested that we think about it until after the show and then discuss it some more. I think these kinds of things probably only happen in D.C.

Lucy's voice is very pure and clear, which is what I love about it. I'd also seen her on her own at The Kennedy Center and am always entertained by her stage presence and moved by her songs. When she stops by your town, you should definitely go see her. Here's one of her songs, "Last Time," to give you a taste:

You Tube Video: "Last Time" by Lucy Wainwright Roche (https://youtu.be/zOXtC9-ps7g

After she finished her set, Rufus Wainwright made a grand entrance onto the stage, wearing an amazing full-length cream-colored silk John Paul Gaultier coat with red floral embroidery, sequin, and other sparkly beading. He said he saw this coat at a party, put it on, left with it, and had been wearing it at concerts for about year now. I could have gone home after this and been happy, but there's more!

Rufus Wainwright has an amazing voice and great musicality. The uniqueness of his songs always surprises me. He sang a few of them and then started playing a dramatic, classical, tornado-like concoction on the piano. The lights flickered and swirled as he told us a story about walking downtown late one night, seeing someone come out of the shadows, and trying to make out who it was....

Then, Liza Minnelli showed up. (It was really Lucy dressed like Liza, but we went with it.) She was led out by masked man in a tux as Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" blasted out of the speakers. They sang a song that Rufus wrote as tribute to Liza Minnelli called "Me and Liza." (The whole thing went something like this, but in English.)

Afterward, he left it to "Liza" to entertain us while he tuned his guitar. In her typical fashion, Lucy asked us if we had any questions. No one really did, and Rufus couldn't believe it: "I know you're all into politics, but this is a real opportunity here," he told us. "This is Liza Minnelli! This is show biz!" (He emphasized this with jazz hands!) Some people began asking goofy questions about Liza's recent appearance at the Oscars and host Ellen DeGeneres's jokes about her. Finished tuning, Rufus took control of this situation –
Rufus: "What was it like having Judy Garland as a mother?"
Liza/Lucy: "Fabulous!"
Rufus: "Okay, let's sing a song."

At this concert, he sang a bit of everything: hits like "Vibrate" and "Out of the Game," new songs like "Argentina" and "Friendship is the Wind," and even pieces from his opera Prima Donna. Among all this entertainment, the highlight of the show was "Candles," a song for which Rufus put his guitar down and silently walked up to the microphone. He sang it acapela, and the song came out of him in every direction, with his entire body swaying like a car dealership's airdancer on a windy day. When he finished, we were silent until one guy among us said, "Whoa." That sparked our eruption of cheers. It was pretty spectacular.

This isn't quite as mesmerizing as the D.C. version, but here he is singing "Candles" in San Francisco in Davies Symphony Hall, June 9, 2013:

You Tube video: Candles by Rufus Wainwright (https://youtu.be/S2p06Atb-i4)

Are you a fan yet?  Catch these two on the road when you can, and you will be.


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