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Review Fri Aug 10 2012

Review: Rufus Wainwright @ Vic, 8/8

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Rufus Wainwright (photos by Cody Davis)

Midway through Wednesday's show at the Vic, Rufus Wainwright said that he'd spent the afternoon watching documentaries about Vivien Leigh when he was forced inside by the afternoon's rain showers. Prior to the next song, he mentioned watching videos of Gene Tierney on Youtube. Following that, he talked about Liza Minnelli's dismissal of his Judy Garland covers... before performing "The Man Who Got Away." If all that talk about gay icons is what drives Rufus Wainwright to be the performer he was last night, people seeing him later on this tour should flood his inbox with Marlene Dietrich clips.

During a nearly 2-hour performance, Wainwright's tenor voice was in top-notch condition and his band sounded very strong. A dazzling "April Fools" came up early, followed by "Song of You" that prompted him to note that it was a "good point of the show to find out how the rest of the set will go." Based on the crowd's reaction, the answer would have to be "quite well." Even though Wainwright's latest album, the Mark Ronson-produced Out of the Game, is a step back to pop music after a few years dabbling in other interests, old songs didn't necessarily take on new arrangements. And new ones didn't exactly have the Ronson touch either. The ones that'd work in a lounge still sounded swanky and those with some muscle didn't lose a beat. The band shuffled between each genre effortlessly and their leader's showmanship led the way. However, after a rocking "The One You Love", the set unfortunately hit a snag when Wainwright turned things over for a few songs from the upcoming Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You film featuring his mother's music. Now, Teddy Thompson and Krystle Warren are both nice talents (and Kate McGarrigle's music is a treat), but it was a Rufus Wainwright show and his departure from the stage was a cue for everyone to use phones for five minutes.

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Rufus Wainwright (photos by Cody Davis)

But the show quickly got back on track with his return. His flamboyance picked up. The audience came alive. Strangely, a take on his father's "One Man Guy" drew one of the largest recognition applauses of the night. "The Art Teacher" and "Going to a Town" followed to build terrific momentum. Before the latter, Wainwright remarked on the "fabulous job" that Mitt Romney's doing. During the encore, opener Adam Cohen walked out for an inevitable duet of one of his father's songs. Wainwright, who's covered the elder Cohen plenty, declared that he's sick of "Hallelujah" and opted instead for "Chelsea Hotel No. 2." As a big fan of Leonard Cohen, I'm not about to heap praise upon it, but it definitely had its moments and Wainwright's cadence offered an interesting take. (The son soured me immediately during his opening set, but he was tolerable in this role.) A rousing "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" closed out the encore, but the crowd's enthusiasm brought Wainwright out for "Poses" and he delivered remarkably on his own at the piano.

 

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Classical Thu Sep 04 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - September 2014

By Elliot Mandel

It's gonna be a great season.

Read this feature »

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