Curiously enough, tonight’s long-awaited, much-anticipated Rufus Wainwright show begins not with the man himself but with, rather uncharacteristically, for concerts nowadays, two opening sets from support acts he hand-picked especially for his first Australian tour since 2010.
The incomparable US-born, Paris-based Krystle Warren, who is quite rightly slowly but steadily beginning to build a reputation as one the most talented songstresses of her time, took to the stage first.
Dressed in a simple black ensemble and carrying her acoustic guitar, she played an all-too-short 20-minute set that was so spellbindingly arresting it sent many out to the foyer to procure a copy of her latest CD, Love Songs: A Time You May Embrace, the moment she left the stage.
Former Brisbane girl Megan Washington followed with a solo set that saw her seated behind her keyboard, performing a short set that was a mix of original material, the highlight of which was probably a dark, noir-like rendition of ‘How To Tame Lions’ and a mutedly beautiful cover of Rowland S. Howard’s ‘Shivers.’
Her voice was in fine enough form and the stripped back, unadorned nature of the acoustic setting allowed both her voice and her songwriting skills to shine, though ‘Shivers’ showed that the song obviously hits a raw, bruised place within her, so much so that it allowed her to tap into something incredibly vulnerable and, in doing so, showcase the range of her voice before quietly leaving the stage.
After a 20 minute intermission, Wainwright wandered out, in near darkness, and launched into a searing rendition of ‘Candles,’ a song written about the death of his beloved mother and revered folk maven Kate McGarrigle.
It began acoustically, with nothing but Wainwright and his stunning tenor, singing acapella, his figure barely discernible in the pale light cast by the candles dotted around the stage, and built into something altogether more soaring and majestic as his band joined one-by-one him onstage.