Peninsular Place

The Magazine

July 2, 2012

Rufus Wainwright [Review]

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Written by: Jasmine Zweifler
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Rufus Wainwright_8

If you’ve heard Rufus Wainwright’s voice even once, you can be sure you’ll never forget it. His plaintive, vaulting tenor was really the only thing on the menu during his performance at Power Center Saturday night. But it was more than enough to satisfy. Though he’s been on tour with a band for quite a while, the concert (one of the “Mainstage” events at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival) was decidedly spartan. The only set piece was the grand piano at center stage; from which Wainwright fashioned lush waves of sound that his vocals tumbled deliciously upon. Absent was the elaborate stagecraft and giddy costumes that you might expect from an artist with a voice that would be undersold if I described it as “theatrical”.  Instead, he made the night an intimate occasion breezily chatting with the audience about his boyhood memories of Michigan and the frustration of waking up with “Patti Smith hair”. He took a moment between almost every song to comment on its significance, often mentioning members of his (criminally talented) family, and especially his daughter Viva.

The set list leaned heavily on his latest album “Out of the Game” with his song “Montauk” emerging as the most moving piece of the night. Wainwright took obvious delight in the audience which became a delirious riot of hoots and whistles after each song; surprising considering most of them looked to be about twice his age. The cheering only grew louder when he seemed totally unwilling and unable to tune his guitar at certain moments, or when he flubbed a verse or two. I swear you could see him blush from the balcony. His sincerity charmed the crowd (myself included) and made his ornate and deeply personal lyrics that much more effecting as they filled the venue from top to bottom with his soaring honesty.

About the Author

Jasmine Zweifler

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