rufus wainwright @ hammer hall 15.09.2012

On his fourth visit in six years, Rufus Wainwright was certainly no stranger to Australia as he played the first of two nights at packed Hammer Hall on Saturday night. Supporting his latest album, Out of the Game, he started off with Candles sung a capella in the dark. He was very much at ease, singing effortlessly, his voice reverberating through the silent hall.  If anything, his voice was more refined than last tour for All Days Are Night, much like a good wine. The stage then lit up with elaborate lighting Dressed in a white suit adorned with sequins, his every movement created a reflection like a mirror ball, launching into Rashida. The band complemented very well, with two back up singers, guitars, keyboards, and drums, the setlist well chosen to reflect this. A number of crowd pleasing favourites, or as Rufus said, ‘greatest hits, volume half’ were played, including Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk, and The Art Teacher.

One of the night’s many highlights was the middle of the set, starring Wainwright’s backing musicians, Teddy Thompson and Krystle Warren, who each covered one of the late Kate McGarrigle’s songs, doing a fine job. They also joined Rufus in a touching cover of One Man Guy, one of his father’s songs. In contrast, Montauk was a more personal song from the present, followed by 14th Street to round off the evening. 

This wasn’t my first Rufus Wainwright show. I recall in 2008, when the encore was a sing and dance rendition of Judy Garland’s Get Happy. But I had no idea that it would be so elaborate. It all started off with the entrance of cupid, and in no particular order, followed with: mythological figures, Rufus as a Roman God, members of the audience joining him on stage, to Bitter Tears, as well as the entire three sections of Hammer Hall dancing, a rebirth, then Gay Messiah, for a really memorable evening.

Setlist:
Candles
Rashida
Barbara
April Fools
The One You Love
Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk
Teddy’s Song
Kystle’s Song
Respectable
Out of the Game
Jericho
Perfect Man
The Man that Got Away
One Man Guy
Art Teacher
Going to a Town
Montauk
14th Street

Grand Finale:
Bitter Tears / Gay Messiah

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