Wainwright does Garland in Carnegie Hall (part 1)

June 14, 2006

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Photo by Daniel Shiplacoff.

Rufus Wainwright recreated Judy Garland’s famous 1961 concert in Carnegie Hall this evening in Carnegie Hall to a sold out crowd. The orchestrations were done by Billy Mays, Mort Lindsay, and Nelson Riddle and adapted by Jon Charles and Christopher Jahnke specifically for Wainwright’s voice. The 40 piece orchestra was made of half strings and half winds with a solid rhythm section, conducted by the perky, bright young Stephen Oremus. The show included all of the original Garland show with one additional encore of “I Cry a Little” accompanied by his mother, Kate McGarrigle on piano. The two halves were colored by two handsome costume changes, the first, a white starred shirt covered by a light beige jacket, with lustery light slacks; the second have started in full tuxedo and a top hat; and in both halves he shuffled off the jackets. His hair had that slept in look, one that he likes. I prefer the do on the cover of Time Out New York.

The median age of the audience was probably 45. Was this because of the material? or is Rufus’s audience primarilly baby boomers? or were these the people who could afford it? I personally missed the edge of a younger audience. (But if I stop and think about it, Rufus seems to always enchant his listeners, they all look as thought they are in a daze when they listen. There is never a kind of headbangers ball scene at a Rufus Wainwright concert.) I saw Laurie Anderson, John Waters, David Bowie, Antony, Joel Gray, and many other familiar faces. Lots of 45 to 60 well-off gay men. Many clusters of women, and surprising number of straight couples (that is for a concert by such a queer as RW). The audience offered up 4 or 5 standing ovations in the course of the evening. I’m certain that if overtime didn’t kick in for the orchestra and stage personnel, there would have been many more encores: the audience roar said as much.

Tonight was all about Rufus Wainwright the singer. His voice was in the best shape I’ve ever heard. New York heard dear Rufus last December when he had a nasty cold but refused to cancel his concerts. He is back and stronger than ever.

I had been led to think there would be some choreography; if there was, it felt spontaneous and not too involved. He drifted back and forth across the stage throughout the evening. He held the microphone in his right had and gestured with the left. His banter with the audience was engaging and light hearted.

[continued tomorrow: part 2, the songs]

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