RUFUS Wainwright is a serious artist and songwriter. But he is a great entertainer too.
His shows are always full of surprises and different twists on that ever-growing back catalogue.
On his past two visits there was his famed tribute to Judy Garland, and in 2010 at this venue the start-to-finish rendition of All Days Are Nights, his stark album of songs in memory of his late mother, the great Canadian songwriter Kate McCarrigle.
This concert opened with the stage in darkness with Wainwright and his band delivering a soaring a cappella version of Candles, one of the standout tracks on his latest album, Out of the Game.
New songs like Barbara (sweet soul) and Jericho (gospel-charged ’70s pop) are welcome additions to his set in 2012, which also included enough of his best-loved songs, likeCigarettes and Chocolate Milk to keep everyone satisfied.
With his excellent band, Wainwright works over a deep vein of orchestral pop and singer-songwriter revelation, but as the concert goes on it strikes the listener just how much of his own thing Wainwright brings to it. There’s that rich, chocolatey voice and the influence of show tunes on his sophisticated melodies. There was a nod to the American songbook too with his Garland cover, The Man That Got Away.
As ever at a Wainwright show, thoughts of family are never away, with Rufus delivering his take on his father Loudon’s One Man Guy. Guitarist Teddy Thompson, son of the great English songwriter Richard, stepped up for a beautiful reading of Kate McGarrigle’s Saratoga Summer Song, and backing vocalist Krystle Warren – a great singer in her own right – did the honours with Kate’s Don’t Know.
Rufus Wainwright sang the house down at the Concert Hall, QPAC. Picture: Marc Robertson
And the hilarious encore, part holiday season pantomime, part toga party, sent everyone smiling into the night.
It has probably been mentioned in too many stories about the Wainwright clan, it’s in the genes. Yes, but being born with a talent and knowing how to bring it to flower in an original and striking way are not the same thing. Rufus has certainly done it.