Rufus Wainwright has returned to Australia to play some solo shows in support of his best of album Vibrate. Simon joined me for tonight's concert at the Palais Theatre. The opening act was Rufus' half-sister Lucy Wainwright Roche, who played a solo folk set on acoustic guitar. She was very funny in between songs and requested questions from the crowd. One person asked if she and Rufus ever played together as children and she recounted a story of Rufus having her pretend to lay dead on the couch while he sang arias to her. Besides her own songs she played a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" (complete with an audience sing along) and a track off an album of dark lullabies that she is currently recording with her sister Martha Wainwright.
Rufus came out in jeans and a pink patterned jacket and sat at the piano to start his set with "Grey Gardens." This was the first time I have seen him live without a band. He alternated between piano and acoustic guitar as he played songs from throughout his career. I was really excited to hear older songs such as "Beauty Mark," "Vibrate," "April Fools," "Gay Messiah" and my personal favorite "Going To A Town." We also got the more recent tracks "Out Of The Game," "Montauk," "Sonnet 20" and an aria from his recently recorded opera Prima Donna. Rufus' voice sounded absolutely amazing during the night, and at one point he said he was channelling Joan Sutherland. It wouldn't have been a Rufus show without some humorous moments, and we were visited on stage by Liza Minelli and Judy Garland before he and Liza (aka Lucy) duetted on the song "Me and Liza." Rufus also worked through a brand new song called "Lucy's Blue" and finished the main set with "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk."
The encore started with another one of my favorites "The Art Teacher" and then he invited out the Melbourne Hallelujah chorus (people who pledged a certain amount for the recording of Prima Donna). Rufus and Lucy did a duet of "Pretty Things" before the chorus joined in for Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which sounded great. The first encore finished with "Poses" and then Rufus came back out and sang "Foolish Love" to close the evening. This was another fantastic concert by Rufus and it's always a privilege to see such a talented musician play in person. If you don't own any of his albums start off with Vibrate and then work your way through his back catalogue.
Here's the video for "Me and Liza"