Rufus Wainwright / June 9, 2007 / New York (Blender Theatre at Gramercy)
The final evening of Rufus Wainwright's four-night residency at New York's Gramercy Theater (June 9) was a glitzy, over-the-top affair, much to the amusement and delight of the singer and audience aliThe final evening of Rufus Wainwright's four-night residency at New York's Gramercy Theater (June 9) was a glitzy, over-the-top affair, much to the amusement and delight of the singer and audience alike.
Showcasing a handful of songs from his new album, "Release the Stars," as well as old favorites, Wainwright impressed and engrossed his fans as he sashayed between grandiose, richly-textured pop operettas, intimate ballads and playful banter about everything from Hugh Laurie to Internet porn to his laundry.
Flanked onstage by his glittery, broach-sporting band, Wainwright made a theatrically grand entrance in a shiny pinstripe suit to the new album's title track. His unmistakable croon was silky smooth from the start and remained that way through his a cappella number at the end.
The first half of the show was dedicated primarily to "Release the Stars," with such songs as the leaving America lament "Going to a Town," the orchestral "Rules and Regulations" and the bemusing "Tulsa," which Wainwright noted is about Killers frontman Brandon Flowers. "[He] hasn't called me yet; his lawyer said he'd call," he said. "In a good way."
The show's midpoint featured a trio of delicate numbers, including "The Art Teacher" from 2004's "Want Two" and the overtly sexual "Between My Legs," whose chanted coda was provided by Wainwright's boyfriend (the previous night, "Brokeback Mountain" star Jake Gyllenhaal stood in).
The second part of the set found Wainwright clad in lederhosen and kicked off with "Harvester of Hearts" and the instrument-heavy "Do I Disappoint You." Last year, Wainwright paid tribute to Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall, and he incorporated two of her songs, "A Foggy Day in Londontown" and "If Love Were All," into this show, as well.
In addition to performing the Irish folk song "Macushla," Wainwright sprinkled the concert's latter half with crowd-pleasing favorites from 2003's "Want One," such as the superbly layered "Beautiful Child," before closing out the set with the rousing chorus of "14th Street."
Appearing onstage for the encore in a white bathrobe, Wainwright manned the piano for "I Don't Know What It Is" and the gorgeous "Pretty Things." From there, he moved front and center to a chair parked in the middle of the stage, where he sat down to apply lipstick and don diamonds and a pair of high heels. Always the show-off, Wainwright dropped his robe to reveal an outfit pairing a suit jacket over pantyhose. His band joined him in similar attire, and the group lip-synched a choreographed performance of Garland's "Get Happy."
The encore ended with "Gay Messiah," which earned the singer massive praise from the sold-out crowd. Back for one final bask in the spotlight, he returned solo for a second encore, during which he dedicated an a cappella rendition of a song called "Dear Little Girl" to his mother. Unfortunately for those seated upstairs, a woman talking on her cell phone interrupted the intimate moment. Nonetheless, it was a fond farewell to his stay at the Gramercy, and New York Rufus fans will be pleased to see the singer return for SummerStage come August.
Here is Rufus Wainwright's set list:
"Release the Stars"
"Going to a Town"
"Rules and Regulations"
"The Art Teacher"
"Leaving for Paris No. 2"
"Between My Legs"
"Harvester of Hearts"
"Do I Disappoint You"
"A Foggy Day in Londontown"
"If Love Were All"
"Nobody's Off the Hook"
"Not Ready to Love"
"I Don't Know What It Is"
"Dear Little Girl"