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    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Rufus at the Grand Canal Theatre

    Rufus Wainwright by alanjwhelan, on Flickr

    This photo was taken at Dublin's new Grand Canal Theatre a few hours ago. Rufus is in the early stages of his tour for new album All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu.

    For this tour he's having venues make an announcement pre-show requesting no applause during the first half while he plays the new record in its entirety. The audience are also asked to note that Rufus' walking on and off stage is considered part of the performance. Tonight, they very nearly managed to pull off the feat of quietness but then one over enthusiastic punter sitting near the edge of the venue couldn't contain their accumulated store of pent up clapping, letting rip as Rufus had almost completed his theatrically slow exit.

    The new album was recorded with the knowledge that Rufus's mother, the fine singer songwriter Kate Mc Garrigle, had little time left to live. It is sombre, dark, deliberately harsh, sometimes unmelodious. It occupies a place in Rufus's canon similar to Sinatra's desolate, inconsolable 'Only the Lonely.' The theatrical presentation of the new material and his decision to present it as one piece is spot on; most of these songs wouldn't work inter-spliced with his back catalogue. The first half worked well for me initially through songs like 'Martha' addressed to his arguably equally talented sister, but after a while the unrelenting gloom becomes wearying, particularly through the batch of Shakespeare sonnets adapted to music. Still, Rufus can't be faulted for staying true to his vision and where his heart is at the moment; he is still, clearly, naturally, in mourning.

    I enjoyed the second half of the show a lot more, where Rufus, still alone at the piano, played a selection of songs from his previous five albums. Even during this section, it was the sad (but this time beautiful and wistful) tracks like Dinner at Eight, Leaving for Paris, and Memphis Skyline that he played the best.

    This, the fifth time I've seen him live was a stark contrast to the joyful showmanship of his Oxygen performance in 2007. I've been lucky enough to see him play Vicar Street with his mom and Aunt Anna McGarrigle, and Martha, and also to see mesmerising shows at Vicar Street during the Want One and Two tours. I'll be back for more next time he's in Dublin. The man is truly a musical treasure to be cherished.

    Oh and the new venue Grand Canal Theatre? Very impressive.

    Great photo of Rufus and really interesting article here.

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