Jessica and I got a double dose of musical deva (and diva?) Rufus Wainwright this weekend, as he appeared on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” quiz show yesterday morning (and won!), then held an astonishing concert at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas.
Hundreds and hundreds of boys’ hearts were breaking last night. If I were a gay man, I don’t know how I could have controlled myself--I could barely handle my emotions as it was. Kept thinking how his music, to use a trite yet apt expression, truly strikes heart chords.
He started off the night with “Grey Gardens” (A reference to the East Hampton home of Edie Beale and the 1975 documentary. By the way, have you seen the 2009 Drew Barrymore version? Watched recently on HBO.) (And a digression…it clicked that the voice at the beginning of the Montreal-based Stars’ “The Woods” is Edie’s, taken from the film—realized this after hearing the intro to the recorded version “Grey Gardens.”)
Jess kept track of his set list, and he played many favorites. The audience was treated to three new songs during “Rufus rehearsal time.” And although photography wasn’t allowed, someone managed to get video footage last night of “Gay Messiah.” He ended with “Hallelujah” (which you might recognize from the Shrek soundtrack) and a song in French (“Les feux d’artifice”). The evening just flew by.
Hearing him play solo at Bass was quite a different experience than when I first saw him perform in Sargent Gym at Bowdoin, almost six years ago to the day (Saturday, November 15, 2003). That night, he played with an 8-person band and was joined by his sister Martha on some songs. I think I helped the Activities Board with band load-in. I will never forget how the band brilliantly recreated orchestral accompaniment in “Oh What a World.”
Sigh. Rufus’s abilities as a musician (in every aspect…vocalist, lyricist, pianist) are second-to-none, and his resulting music so brimming with passion that we couldn’t help but be moved.