Monday, February 25, 2019

Rufus Wainwright- All These Poses Tour

Rufus Wainwright is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his debut album with the All These Poses tour, where he plays songs from his first two albums. Nicola and Belinda joined me for tonight's show at the Melbourne Recital Centre, which is a dream venue acoustically to hear Rufus sing in. Opening the evening was one of his band members, Rachel Eckroth, who played a half hour set of atmospheric songs on keyboard while also utilising samples, loops and vocal effects.

Rufus is touring with a five piece band and they started the evening with his very first single "April Fools" (I remember when that video came out in 1998). The show was broken up into two parts, with the first half focused on songs from his eponymous debut album. Rufus was dressed in a top hat and jacket but took those off a few songs in to reveal a gold sequin tank top with his high-waisted striped pants and suspenders. He played many of my favorites off the album, including "Barcelona," "Danny Boy," "Millbrook," "Foolish Love," "In My Arms" and "Beauty Mark," which is about his mother Kate McGarrigle. He had a few funny stories to tell about his mom, including that Joni Mitchell was banned in their household. This didn't stop him from participating in her recent 75th birthday tribute concert and singing for us her song "Both Sides, Now," which was absolutely amazing and brought some of the audience to their feet after it. He also played his latest single, "Sword Of Damocles," which was inspired by Donald Trump.

After a brief intermission the show continued, with the second half focused on songs from Rufus' second album Poses. He came out in a very decorative and heavy jacket and started with "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk." The set list balanced between the more upbeat tracks such as "California," "Grey Gardens" and "Shadows" and slower ballads like "Poses," "One Man Guy," "The Tower Of Learning" and "In A Graveyard," which he performed solo on piano to finish the set.

For the encore Rufus came back out in a red bomber jacket and played "Imaginary Love" off his debut album, the emotional "Going To A Town" off Release The Stars (my very favorite song of his), and then finished the night with The Beatles' "Across The Universe" accompanied by a choir of audience members. This was such an amazing show and a privilege to get to hear his first two albums live in person after listening to them so many times over the years.

Here's the video for "Sword Of Damocles"

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Bianca Del Rio- It's Jester Joke Tour

Bianca Del Rio, the stand-up comedian, drag queen and winner of season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, brought her latest show It's Jester Joke to the Comedy Theatre for the first of two sold out performances tonight. The title of the show is not only a pun, but a nod to her clown persona, which is something she fully embraced with her orange wig and choice of costume.

No one was safe during Bianca's hour plus stand-up set as her biting wit took aim at disabled people, different races and ethnicities, gays, lesbians, other Drag Race alum, the Catholic Church, and various audience members sitting in the front rows. Going into Bianca’s shows you know she will say some truly outrageous and offensive things, but it is important to remember that at the end of the day you are attending a drag show and it's not meant to be nice.

Bianca was very quick with her interactions and responses to the crowd, and was riffing so much I'm not sure how much of her planned set she managed to get through. She spoke about doing promo on some of the Australian morning talk shows, and her funniest story was about when she had to play a Gay Sober event in NYC after a big night out and was desperate for a drink prior to going on stage.

After her set Bianca did a Q&A segment, answering prewritten questions from the crowd. They provided some funny moments, including one from musician Henry Wagons about his young daughter's love of Bianca and RuPaul's Drag Race. If you get the chance (and don't mind potentially being offended), be sure to check out Bianca when she plays in your city.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Mclean Stephenson and Alexander Gow Photography Exhibition

Memphis Projects
Tonight Mary, Belinda and I attended the opening of a photography exhibition by Sydney-based photographer Mclean Stephenson and Melbourne Oh Mercy frontman Alexander Gow at Memphis Projects in Abbotsford.

Contained in one large room, it was interesting to observe the contrasting styles of their photographs in the exhibition. While Alex's photos were mainly black and white portraits of friends and fellow musicians, Mclean's photos were a more abstract mix of people and landscapes. There was a nice turn out for the opening which included many of the subjects in Alex's photos, as well as Henry Wagons, who played a part in the black eye Alex was sporting from a recent a game of squash.

Memphis Projects

Memphis Projects

The exhibition runs from 22-23 February 2019, or you can check out their works online on their sites.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Trixie Mattel- Skinny Legend Tour

Tonight I had the privilege of seeing my favorite RuPaul's Drag Race alum and All Stars 3 winner Trixie Mattel return to Melbourne at The Plenary with her new one woman show Skinny Legend. This was the last night of her Australian tour, and opening the evening was Melbourne's very own Karen From Finance, who performed a great routine themed around the working women and office environment. She not only lip synced to Dolly Parton's "9 To 5," but also former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's famous misogyny speech against Tony Abbott.

Before Trixie came out on stage there was a cute little cartoon of her getting ready, then a compilation of clips from interviews, RuPaul's Drag Race, the YouTube series UNHhhh and Viceland's The Trixie and Katya Show. Trixie began the show with a lip sync mash up to "Roxie (The Name On Everybody's Lips)" from the musical Chicago, but with a robot voice inserted to say Trixie instead, as well as some monologues by Tammie Brown and Jasmine Masters. Trixie was wearing a full blond wig and purple jumpsuit with long bell sleeves for the first half of the show. She had some great stand-up bits and stories that covered a wide range of topics, including going through Australian immigration, ageing, parenting, bears and interactions with fans. Despite not liking hugs she invited an audience member up on stage to hug her, which resulted in a red warning alarm going off while she was being touched.

Trixie Mattel Skinny Legend Australian Tour

Trixie's Australian accent has improved from previous visits, which could be thanks to her watching Wigs By Vanity Instagram videos. As expected, she played some songs on guitar, with "I've Already Got Your Money" dedicated to people who might be offended by the show, a new song "Rich People" about the troubles of the rich like having to double parking their boats or staining their fur coats with the blood of the poor, and "Little Sister" off last year's EP One Stone. Trixie also sang a hilarious parody of Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes" called "Steve Buscemi Eyes," which featured a photo montage on the screen of various Drag Race alum faces photoshopped with his eyes.

After a brief intermission the second half of the show began with old black and white fitness and modelling clips hilariously narrated by Devon Green. Trixie then came out in a 1970s Cher/Native American inspired pink outfit with a long pink headdress that showed off lots of body. She had some hilarious puns about her outfit, such as,"I had reservations about wearing this" (note Trixie is Ojibwe). She told more personal stories with her stand up in the second part of the show, including about growing up in rural Wisconsin and being a country gay, moving to Los Angeles and the differences in who's considered hot, and some interesting encounters with the dentist and proctologist.

Trixie Mattel Skinny Legend Australian Tour

Musically Trixie showed off her chops by playing a pink clarinet to "Colors Of The Wind" from the Disney movie Pocahontas, her beautiful pink autoharp on the plaintive song "Is Michael Cera Hot" (complete with photo montage playing behind her), and then back onto guitar for the unreleased song "Yellow Cloud," which is due out in May 2019. To finish the night we got a snippet of Oasis' "Wonderwall" by audience request before she played the song that represented her past 12 months, RuPaul's "Kitty Girl" from the All Stars 3 finale. Trixie sang the first two verses before getting a guy from the audience to sing BeBe Zahara Benet and her parts of the song. Overall Skinny Legend was such a fantastic show and demonstrated how multitalented Trixie is as a performer. I am looking forward to some new music on the horizon and hopefully more Australian shows in the near future.

Here's the video for a live acoustic version of "Little Sister"

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Eurovision - Australia Decides 2019

Australia has been officially competing in the Eurovision Song Contest for the last four years, but this year is the first time that the Australian public has had the opportunity to pick which song and artist represents the country. Tonight on SBS was Eurovision - Australia Decides, appropriately held on the Gold Coast and hosted by Australia's Eurovision commentators Myf Warhurst and Joel Creasey. Ten artists performed their original songs live on tv for the national final, with the expert jury and popular votes counting for 50% each.

It was an entertaining evening, with Kate Miller-Heidke's song "Zero Gravity" deservedly winning the crown to represent Australia. I think it will do really well at Eurovision with its pop-opera sound and staging.

Second place went to the fantastic Electric Fields with their song "2000 and Whatever," which had parts of the song sung in language.

My other favorite performance of the night was Courtney Act with "Fight For Love."

The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Tel Aviv, Israel from 14-18 May 2019.

Friday, February 08, 2019

RuPaul’s Drag Race Werq The World Australian Tour 2019

Tonight I went down to the Palais Theatre for the first ever visit to Australia of the official RuPaul’s Drag Race Werq The World tour. This tour featured seven queens from different seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race doing individual and group numbers accompanied by four male dancers.

The show was hosted by Season 10 finalist Asia O'Hara, who did a fantastic job keeping things moving along and wowing the crowd with her numerous costume changes throughout the night. The Season 10 alums featured at the start of the show with Kameron Michaels performing a medley of Cher songs, and Eureka O'Hara doing a routine dressed as Ursula from The Little Mermaid that contained many of her signature dance moves (and a cameo from Asia O'Hara as Ariel). After an audience game of "Wig In A Box" where three people had to lip sync for their lives, my favorite queen from Season 8, Kim Chi, did a very beautiful lip sync to an emotional ballad in a fantastic costume that was gradually torn away to reveal a sequin dress underneath.

After a short intermission the Season 10 queens kicked off the second half of the show with a 10s Across The Board boxing themed routine. One of the great things about tonight was the amount of young people in the crowd since it was an all ages show. This included a little five-year-old girl in the front row, who Asia O'Hara interacted with throughout the night. Having someone so young in the crowd was a bit of a challenge though for Season 5 and All Stars 2 finalist Detox, who did a very sexy and risque number. It was quite funny to see her doing the sign of the cross and mouthing "I'm sorry" to the little girl's mother.

RuPaul's Drag Race Werq The World Australia 2019

Next up was Season 7 winner Violet Chachki, who did a fantastic burlesque routine that included her doing aerial acrobatics using a large hoop hanging from the ceiling. It was pretty spectacular. Asia O'Hara came out and did a flag and baton twirling routine, and then it was time for Season 8 and current All Stars 4 contestant Naomi Smalls to perform. She did a high energy dance routine that featured her now iconic back bend and slide across the floor, which had the crowd cheering.

RuPaul's Drag Race Werq The World Australia 2019

For the finale all the girls came back out in silver outfits for their final bow. It was a very entertaining evening getting to watch the queens do full production numbers and exciting to see some more Ru Girls that I haven't seen live before.
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