Some people are too cool to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Others are too hip for Rufus Wainwright. Well, whatever, man. I am gloriously lame, so my boyfriend and I spent this past V-Day at Radio City Music Hall watching Rufus.

Though I rarely spend so much money on tickets (anything over $20 tends to discourage me), the experience was well worth it. I’ve lived in New York for three years without once setting foot inside Radio City. The place is breathtaking: enormous stage, beautiful gold curtain, three levels of balcony, domed ceiling. Sure, all the tourists from Duluth, or wherever they come from, were kind of annoying with their glowstick-illumined frozen drinks and questionable concert etiquette, but we all have to interface with the real world sometimes.

The show began with a short, pleasant set by Sean Lennon. He joked nervously about playing depressing songs on Valentine’s Day and closed with a cute duet with his girlfriend. At one point, he mentioned that his mom was in the audience. I’m not typically so starstruck, but something felt wonderful about occupying the same room–albeit a very large room–as Yoko.

I had seen Wainwright before, and whether he gives it his all or comes across as a drink- and drug-addled sot, he always puts on quite a show. This performance was by far the most impressive I’ve witnessed from him. He played for almost two and a half hours, in two sets and a lengthy, show-stopping encore. Most of the selections came from his past three album, Want One, Want Two, and Release the Stars. Though I’m less familiar with those than I am with Wainwright’s first two albums, Rufus Wainwright and Poses, he brought every song to life with expressive singing, playful theatrics, a large band, and loud costumes.

Among the feats Wainwright performed that night were:
–a few Judy Garland songs, including “Get Happy,” performed in nylons, heels, and a blazer, backed by a chorus line of nuns;
–an un-microphoned version of an Irish folk song;
–an “Across the Universe” sing-along with Sean Lennon, his sister Martha, and his mother, folk singer Kate McGarrigle;
–a rendition of one of McGarrigle’s own songs with her and Martha;
–“Gay Messiah” as production number, complete with the obscene use of a can of Silly String;
–three costume changes;
–and onstage pyrotechnics.

It was an ambitious performance, and Wainwright surpassed even the high standards he set for himself.

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