RUFUS WAINWRIGHT CONSIDERED (2012): Back in the game

 |   |  1 min read

Rufus Wainwright: Respectable Dive
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT CONSIDERED (2012): Back in the game

In 2006, Rufus Wainwright presented two concerts at Carnegie Hall in which he recreated the legendary Judy Garland 1961 show in the same venue.

The subsequent album was hailed by many critics -- as were the concerts -- but you had to think in many instances it was by people who'd never heard the Garland recording.

There was perhaps an erring towards a favourable opinion because, after all, here was a gay man -- a gay icon in his own right -- celebrating a gay icon.

But, without dissecting the album too much, a fair hearing would say it often offered rather more languid, louche even, revisions of the material which were drawn from the Great American Songbook. But it earned him a Grammy nomination, which might more properly have gone to his studio album Release the Stars of the same year.

His next studio album was born of unhappy circumstances. All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu came after the death of his mother Kate McGarrigle and was a dramatic but demanding song cycle at piano which was extremely hard to take in concert as the drama compounded into melodrama.

Wainwright -- articulate, funny and self-deprecating -- is also one who takes himself seriously, as witnessed by the limited edition, 19 disc box set House of Rufus released in 2011. For someone in his late 30s, this massive retrospective was akin to when Kenneth Branagh wrote his first autobiography Beginning at just 28.

220px_Rufus_Wainwright_Out_of_the_GameThose who were understandably seduced by Wainwright's early albums but less smitten by the Carnegie Hall and Lulu releases probably missed his return to form with the rather more approachable Out of the Game in early 2012 (produced by Mark Ronson).

He drew on pop influences (Bowie, Elton) as much as cabaret, offered lovely autobiographical songs such Montauk directed to his daughter (singing about her two dads, Wainwright married Jorn Weisbrodt at their home in Montauk in August 2012) and seemed to rejoice in the pop format while weaving typically smart lyrics across musical settings which also referred to Fifties ballads (the lazy Respectable Dive), Billy Joel-like Broadway-meets-chipping dancefloor material (Perfect Man) and delightful songs like the musically tricky Sometimes You Need where he sounds barely able to rouse himself, but beautifully.

Out of the Game -- a final and overt farewell to his dangerous days for the more rewarding life of domesticity and quiet sophistication -- was the album to come back for, although it hardly did serious damage to any charts outside of Britain and Denmark.

Perhaps after Garland, Lulu and the box set -- with all their attendant publicity and in some cases soul baring interviews -- there was Rufus fatigue.

But Wainwright, even when demanding, is always worth hearing . . . and Out of the Game is the album he is currently touring with a Dylan-like schedule.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Absolute articles index

CROSBY STILLS NASH & YOUNG IN '74 (2014): if you can't love the one you're with . . .

CROSBY STILLS NASH & YOUNG IN '74 (2014): if you can't love the one you're with . . .

Although their name might have sounded like a corporate entity putting up a united front Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were anything but. “We had to put Crosby’s name first... > Read more

THE STONE ROSES (2013): Here, for the first time, the second coming

THE STONE ROSES (2013): Here, for the first time, the second coming

Some concerts have a disproportionately greater effect than what might have seemed at the time. The Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in June '76 was attended by only a couple of dozen but many... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

YOUSSOU N'DOUR; RETURN TO GOREE, a doco by PIERRE-YVES BORGEAUD (Roadshow DVD)

YOUSSOU N'DOUR; RETURN TO GOREE, a doco by PIERRE-YVES BORGEAUD (Roadshow DVD)

Goree is the island off the coast of Senegal through which thousands of slaves passed on their way to Middle Passage and, if they survived, various parts of the "New World", notably the... > Read more

AUCKLAND ROCK VENUES (2003): Pull down the shades

AUCKLAND ROCK VENUES (2003): Pull down the shades

It was Joni Mitchell who said it first - and Counting Crows thought it bore repeating: "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot." It wasn't exactly paradise which disappeared... > Read more