Live Review: Rufus Wainwright @ The Tivoli, 12 March 2015

From Broadway to Baritone

Rufus Wainwright played to a packed out politely enthusiastic Tivoli crowd, quite possibly Brisbane’s most elegant theatre stage, as part of his Best of Rufus Wainwright 2015 Tour.

He certainly brought with him the absolute best. Supported by his younger sister Lucy Wainwright, whose unique stage presence and perfectly berceuse voice, reminiscent of one of my favourite Australian vocalists Gemma Ameera of ‘Gypsys Gift’ completely captivated the crowd and the room soon went from shy and silent admiration to bursting with laughter at her tales and roaring in applaud at her musical talent.

Lucy had previously visited Australia seven years ago with her renowned father Lauden Wainwright III on his Australian tour: you can truly see the entertainment gene is very much a part of this families DNA as Lucy tells of her latest project with sister Martha, who had also toured with Rufus on his previous visits.

This will be Lucy’s last show on RW’s Best Of world tour before returning to the city of Montreal with Martha to record an album of “Dark Lullabies.” These catchy lullabies are a hilarious take on childhood nursery rhymes and for much of the crowd it was all too familiar of childhood memories as laughter erupted throughout the room during her performance. She went on to tell hilarious tour stories and ended the show with a sing along. The once demure and shy crowd courageously chanted along to Bruce Springsteen’s 1980 classic Everybody’s got a hungry heart and so the previously awkward Lucy Wainwright was soon as favoured as her very own brother, which we had all gathered to see.

Rufus walked out moments after Lucy’s applaud subsided wearing his famous leather pants, a pair of spikey velvet loafers and in classic Rufus style a perfectly cut jacket.

He smiles ever so gracefully and takes his place on the piano starting off with Grey Gardens. Seconds into his first song his voice is so consuming you could have closed your eyes and mistaken yourself for having been transported to some holy place of angels in chorus. His incredible ability to carry notes for such extended periods is unlike anything I have experienced before; his precision and symphonic delivery is truly a remarkable act in itself. Its no wonder he has for some time been lending his talents to the opera world. Most recently by composing the score for upcoming Prima Donna alongside French Bernadette Colamine, as well as working with theatres.

He played effortlessly atop a grand piano and swooned each and every guest with his limitless dynamism. In the past he had toured with a full band so it was quite a special experience to see him own the stage and reimagine some of his classics on acoustic guitar as he danced it up while he played. He smiles a classic cheeky smile, his charisma and charming good looks really do just get better with age (not to say at a gushing 41 that he is at all aged) I am sure I was not the only one who felt this way as across the room everyone was deep in admiration.

But of course a man of many talents such as Rufus doesn’t stop at simply performing classics, he soon breaks into theatrical and dramatic piano playing whilst he narrates a tale of a frightening backstage experience, the lights wildly follow him as he shouts and then with a ‘BANG” of confetti he screams “LIZA MINELLI” and out comes a sparkly, dis-shelved Liza Minelli, her classic bob is a mess and her make up running down her face.

She has come to join in her namesake song Me and Liza and moments after another special guest joins the stage, a muscly rather tall young Judy Garland carrying a birthday cake announcing its Liza’s Birthday. After a hilarious Happy Birthday the commotion ends briefly yet the crowd is left in stitches once again reminded of the imaginative genius of the Wainwright family.

He soon returns to his silent piano where he belts out favourites of not only the crowd but also his own as he delivers each note and strike with such dedication, this moment, this night truly is the best of Rufus Wainwright. He smiles to himself as he sings his own moving songs and a seated swaying crowd sing along in soulful approbation.
Lucy joins him on stage for a couple of duo’s, if the harmonies were captivating before they are nothing short of soul transporting as they perform together. Their relationship truly is a special one, there is no holding back on expressing yourself here and that is seen as their polar styles join in divine unison.

After a much anticipated encore and his ever popular rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah he ends the night off with a new song Lucy’s Blue which he premiered in Perth just weeks before. A song written in honour of his sister Lucy, his way of saying thanks to her for her company and astonishing talent on tour as they played their last night together, a truly outstanding show from start to finish.

Absolutely and wholly hypnotising. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the night, I was moved to tears during his heart breaking ballads, I laughed hysterically at his theatrical show and cheeky stage banter and I cant wait to experience this magic again.



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