I wanted to check out Rufus Wainwright's show Saturday, but the ticket price and the lure of the all-local bill just three blocks away at the Ken Club made me pass him up. But he's been selling out venues and playing songs off his upcoming album, so I deputized Rufus superfan Rachel as a correspondent and had her report back...
(Photo from Rufus' Coachella set)
I think Rufus Wainwright is in love. I don't have any inside information on this, but after seeing him perform at the Belly Up on Saturday night I believe that something good is going on in his life. It was the first time in seven years and seven concerts that I'd seen him so confident and put together (no fumbled lyrics!). And the songs from his upcoming album, "Release the Stars," which made up the bulk of the show, had a decidedly optimistic feel to them. His life seems to be settling down. Or maybe he's just hoping a different approach might help him capture the pop stardom that's been eluding him.
With the concert so heavy on new songs (including the first track, "Do I Disappoint You," which Wainwright insisted was a rhetorical question), my concert buddy felt left out because she was most familiar with the album "Poses." The only time she could sing along was during "One Man Guy," a duet with opener Teddy Thompson during the encore. Speaking of Thompson, my favorite of Wainwright's new offerings was "Nobody's Off the Hook, " which he wrote for Thompson. He mused on his friend's "baby blues" so sweetly, sounding more like a comforting older brother than an angst-ridden artiste.
Though I felt intrigued by his new stuff, the highlight was "Beautiful Child" (from "Want One"), which rocked and was the most emotionally satisfying moment of the night. After the song, Wainwright said: "Hey, that was fun, it was kind of like a mariachi tune!" He was referring to the horn section onstage, part of the seven-person band he'd brought with him. It was the first time I'd seen live horns on tour with Wainwright, as well as no female backup singers (his all-male crew wore striped, kind-of matching shirts and plenty of sparkly brooches). The main horn section was made up of a tenor sax, trumpet and French horn, which was miked too heavily for the first half of the show. This was thankfully remedied because, really, too much French horn is never a good thing. Two and half hours of Rufus Wainwright (plus one intermission), however, was a very good thing.
"Release the Stars" comes out May 15.