Wainwright does Garland in Carnegie Hall: (part 3)

June 16, 2006

Kate McGarrigle and Rufus Wainwright onstage at Carnegie Hall; photo by Daniel Shiplacoff

Photo by Daniel Shiplacoff.

[Here are my notes for the 2nd half of the concert.]

1. That’s Entertainment!

Great opener; Rufus comes on with tux and top hat. Rufus turns the camp on high — if you didn’t know it was gay pride week, now you do.

2. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love

Sung gorgeously by Rufus, but the arrangement borders on slimy Hollywood.

3. Come Rain Or Come Shine

A good song for Rufus’s voice as there are a lot of words, spit out jazzily, and lurking behind is a slow moving long line.

4. You’re Nearer
5. Foggy Day, A
6. If Love Were All

Stephen Oremus, the musical director, let’s the band take a break and accompanies Rufus at the piano on three achingly gorgeous performed ballads. If he hasn’t already, he should learn the piano parts and add these to his solo repertoire list. He starts touring Europe later this month, and you lucky people will find out what of this show he will add to his solo repertoire. I look forward to hearing these songs veer from these old arrangements and become his own.

7. Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart

Again, out of the mouth of Rufus Wainwright, this song becomes so gay, and so faaabulous. He brings it off with aplomb, and then some. We get to see Rufus dance during the instrumental breaks.

8. Stormy Weather

Martha comes on to sing this one. Tall and oh so sexy (see the pic from yesterday), Martha sells this number with a contagious madness. Her hand hovers over the side of her face as though she is about to go mad, I’m reminded a bit of David Byrne’s “same as it ever was…” scene in STOP MAKING SENSE. The timbre of her voice is so compact, full of information, and powerful, I was thrillingly exhausted at the end. The audience lept to their feet. You did it Martha.

9. You Made Me Love You / For Me And My Gal / The Trolley Song

An audience pleaser medley if their ever was one. For me, these three are so inextricably bound up with Judy Garland, I’m having a hard time letting Rufus do them. I don’t see them as going on in his reperoire. “You made…” was a bit rushed; “For me..” was sweet; “The Trolley Song” thrilled the crowd into clapping, and Rufus sung it perfectly.

10. Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody

Bad arrangement; Rufus sings the song with the same laser legato he uses in “Old Whore’s Diet.”

11. Over The Rainbow

Kate McGarrigle (Rufus’s mother) accompanies her son on this one. She is dressed up and looks stunning, but is clearly a bit uncomfortable in the get up. Being the old folky she is, I know she’d prefer to be in a flannel shirt and jeans. They’ve played this many, many times and tonight’s performance was thrilling. In retrospect, I wish the orchestra had just sat this one out. It was a dumb arrangement, the noodling strings just got in the way. Kate dropped out 2/3rds of the way through. Too bad. Other than that, a real lump in the throat performance.

12. Swanee

Fine.

13. After You’ve Gone

Lorna Luft (Judy’s daughter) shares this one with Rufus. Her vibrato channels Judy in an instant, and I realized this element was one very large difference between Judy and Rufus. (More on that tomorrow.)

14. Chicago

Great finale; the three encores Judy sang didn’t really feel like encores, rather the three last songs. Nonetheless, a fitting climax to the evening.

15. Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye

Touching ballad accompanied once again by Kate. This softens the farewell and leaves us with a “feminine ending.”

[continued: postlude and closing thoughts]

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