Rufus WainwrightOther than the boa around his neck, Rufus Wainwright’s performance at Perth Concert Hall last night had few frills, confirming that he doesn’t need much to make musical magic. Aside from a screen as a backdrop, it was just Rufus and his Steinway filling the hall with languid, otherworldly and radiant sounds.

Rufus entered slowly and magisterially in a lavish black cape with a five metre train stretching offstage. The crowd had been briefed not to clap through the first half of the performance, whereafter we could, as Rufus told us in the second half, “clap to our heart’s content”. The silence created an atmosphere of drama in an intense first half.

With just a piano and his enormous voice, Rufus created an ornate musical landscape, the atmosphere enhanced by a series of giant, blinking eyes staring out at the audience hypnotically on the backdrop.

As we were soaked in the heavenly sounds of his magnificent vocals, dazzling piano runs and lush orchestrations, only once did his voice falter towards the end of the first half and we forgave him – it was a reminder he’s human.

A more upbeat Wainwright emerged after the interval – all smiles and kisses, bouncing out on stage in jeans, a T-shirt and scarf. Chatty, warm and funny, he won the audience over playing interspersing favourites such as Hallelujah, Matinee Idol, Cigarettes and Chocolate and Memphis Skyline, which he wrote about Jeff Buckley, with some newer upbeat offerings, mixing his trademark wry banter into the repertoire. Nicole Kidman, Rupert Murdoch, and the “late great Heath Ledger”, to whom he dedicated a song, all got a mention. The classic La Complainte de la Butte from Moulin Rouge was impeccable.

His latest album, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, was released after his mother’s death at the start of the year and Rufus talked candidly about how hard it’s been for him. He sung about his sister Martha in Martha and father in Dinner at Eight, including an opening disclaimer that it wasn’t as harsh as it sounds.

His encore included Going to a Town and he closed with a song about love and life his mother had written about his father “in simpler times”. It was an appropriate ending to a show in which he had shared part of his life and love with us.

I left with ears tingling with delight and promising myself I will never miss another Perth show from this performer.

Rufus Wainwright

Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Thursday 14th October | 02 9250 7777

QPAC Concert Hall
Friday 15th October | 136 246

Festival Theatre
Sunday 17th October | 131 246

Concert Hall
Monday 18th October | 08 9484 1133

State Theatre
Thursday 21st October | 136 100

Palais Theatre
Sunday 24th October | 136 100

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