Live Report: Rufus Wainwright at the National Concert Hall in Dublin


“A singer-songwriter at the piano is sometimes considered a limited medium. Wainwright has stretched him into glorious shapes…”

Rufus Wainwright has been busy in the two-and-a-half years since he brought his semi-regular family Christmas review to the National Concert Hall. He wrote his third opera, published a series of podcasts about his early career and released his ninth studio album, Not following the rules. Like the rest of us, he too experienced a once-in-a-century public health emergency.

With all of that in the rearview mirror, it wasn’t entirely surprising that he marked his return to Ireland with an old-school show. It was Wainwright in minstrel mode, leaping briskly through the arc of his career.

He wore glittering ruby ​​slippers as a tribute to the Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland (he just re-recorded his iconic Rufus does Judy tribute to Garland and performed a haunting a cappella “Over The Rainbow” on the night). An Oz-like spark also infused Wainwright’s stage persona, who was that of a gossip from birth. But this showman thrived alongside songs of devastating heartache and bottomless melancholy. He was straight into those darker hits as he kicked off with the gripping, ominous “Grey Gardens” and the lively “Vibrate,” the latter from his 2004 masterpiece. want one.

A singer-songwriter at the piano is sometimes considered a restricted medium. Wainwright stretched it into glorious forms. “Greek Song” was a road movie full of courage and wonder (“One way is Rome and the other is Mecca / either side of either side / of our motorbike”). And “The Art Teacher” blended Philip Glass minimalism with the story of a Hillary Clinton go-getter in her Type-A pantsuit, haunted by a crush on a schoolgirl.

The successes were only a way of buttering up the public for incursions into his operas: there were excerpts from Prima donna and Hadrianwhich will soon be presented in Madrid, under the direction of Wainwright’s husband, Jörn Weisbrodt.

And there was a sweet Valentine’s Day for her 11-year-old daughter, Viva, in the form of “My Little You.” Perhaps the most impactful of all was “Gay Messiah,” with Montreal-born, Los Angeles-based Wainwright strumming an acoustic guitar and singing about the quest for freedom and equality in 21st-century America. century. Seventeen years after he wrote it, this message has landed faster than ever.


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