Monday, May 02, 2005

Greg Smyth Reviews: Rufus Wainwright Live @ Newcastle Tyne Theater

Our man on the UK music scene, Greg Smyth, is back. Check out his homeland at Swing Batter Batter!


Rufus Wainwright is naked. For most of the night Rufus has been dressed for a Doctor Who audition: part scarfed Tom Baker eccentric, part Jon Pertwee dandyish fop. But, in a fit of Bacchanalian pique, the self-proclaimed Gay Messiah and his band have stripped to their smalls and are frolicking through a decadent version of Want Two's Old Whore's Diet.

When not actually nude, Rufus is, at least, emotionally exposed. Whether it's the trio of Wainwright related songs in "the family section", Catherine The Great, Little Sister and the bilious Dinner At Eight, about mother Kate McGarrigle, sister Martha and father Loudon respectively. Or a breath-defying run-through of 'hanging on the mobile phone' ballad Vibrate. Throughout Rufus lays himself bare.

Perhaps the most personally revealing moment is the haunting Jeff Buckley tribute Memphis Skyline, full of mixed feelings and regret, before segueing into a spirited reading of Hallelujah. Now a lesson in postmodernism, as Wainwright covers Buckley covering Cohen, it's made all the more pointed as the vocals are divided between Rufus and his backing singers.

By the closing encore, and with everyone now firmly wrapped in dressing gowns, it's been proved that, no matter how much he's wearing, Rufus Wainwright is a sensation.

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