Ron "Ran" Waite Wing

In Concert: Rufus Wainwright

In Concert: Rufus Wainwright
by Ran

  Rufus Wainwright is an OUT musician that I have always been ambivalent about.  I like his sound (his tenor voice is rich and powerful), but unfortunately I can't understand the words to most of his songs.  His singing is very nasal, and he elongates the syllables out of proportion.  It's a quandary. 

  He was raised in Canada by his mother, and has won two Juno Awards ( Canada 's equivalent of the Grammy's) for Best Alternative Album in 1999 and 2002.  His first CD Rufus Wainwright was released in 1998 and he hasn't looked back since then.  He is considered a kind of wunderkid.  A good portion of the audience at Syracuse University thought so as well, when he shared the bill with Ben Kweller on March 5, 2006.

  I had never heard of Ben Kweller, but the audience sure had!  He's a throw back to the 60's: hair style, clothes, guitar and electric piano playing, an anti-folk hero of sorts.  His music took a chapter out of the 60s, it was a combination of protest, hope, need and peace--and the audience loved it.  He shined when it was "Sha, Sha" time, the audience was singing, dancing and partying along with him.

  When Rufus arrived, he walked out on stage and sat at the grand piano.  Dressed in a shirt and tie, he launched into his repertoire.  We heard songs like "I Don't Know What It Is," "Vibrate," "Crumb By Crumb," "Gay Messiah,"  "Little Sister," "The Art Teacher," and "Matinee Idol."  (I had to look up the lyrics that I recognized, in order to figure out what songs he had actually sung.)  He accompanied himself on piano for some of the songs and played the guitar on others.  He asked the crowd about the SU basketball team, and then told them how he had been on vacation when this gig had been booked.  All of a sudden, a female voice from the audience yelled out "I love you," but it was quickly overshadowed by a male voice shouting "No, I love you."  Rufus responded slyly with "my mom loves me."  He then introduced his half-sister Lucy Roach.  She sang background harmony on "Katonah."  His concert was on the same night as the Academy Awards, which he did mention.  He dedicated his song, "The Maker Makes," which was included in " Brokeback Mountain " to one of the actors.  He said "this one is for Jake, who mysteriously is not in love with me."  LOL.  For his last song, Lucy again joined him on stage and they sang "Hallelujah" (from the "Shrek" soundtrack).  Then he turned, waved to the audience, blew them kisses and walked off stage, arm-in-arm with his sister.  After the thunderous applause and the standing ovation, he came back to sing "California" and then a new song entitled "Sanssouci," about a palace built by Fredrick the Great, near Berlin.  Hmmmm...

  Rufus is very clever, fusing numerous classical/opera elements into his contemporary songs, but to me, his music is an acquired taste.  No matter what I thought of this concert, I'm still glad that I saw him perform live.  You can find him online at

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