Friday, December 02, 2005

Oh What a World...

For the last six months Stuart and I have been hardly able to keep the secret. On regular occasions through this period Karen has mentioned how “one day” she’ll get to see Rufus Wainwright live, or lamented that his Manchester date sold out in a matter of hours. We’ve commiserated obviously and managed not to let slip that not only did we manage to get tickets, but we’re in the centre, third row.

By the time her birthday came around we were just about fit to bust and it was just as well the truth was out at last (although apparently she nearly missed the tickets that Stuart had tucked in her card).

So expectations for tonight are high. I spent the early part of last night chucking up, so I'm, frankly relieved to be fit enough to make the gig. But adrenalin comes to my aid and Karen and I are like giggling schoolgirls as we make our way to our excellent seats whilst the Guillemots play (not a bad band, but it’s all very impressive that the guitarist has found a way to make his instrument do an impression of a screaming seabird, but enough already).

“There’s a lot of people here” comments Stuart, with a smirk “…behind us”.

Not long after eight, Rufus and band take to the darkened stage and the unmistakable harmonised hum of Oh What a World kicks in. It just gets better from there for the next two and a half hours.

The music is sublime and Rufus the ever-charming showman. He clearly laps up the live experience, flirting outrageously with us and stunning us with his beautiful music. He makes it look so easy, the lips barely move as he drawls out lines so endued in passion as to make you cry. At times he seems as delighted at what he can make his voice do as we are. To say the man has charisma would be a major understatement. In fact as we arrive at the Apollo Stuart commented in a faux paranoid manner “do I look butch enough?”, but leaves saying “well if ever there were a man that could make this straight man turn gay…”.

The set-list is predominantly from the two Want albums, plus a couple of older numbers, a few new songs and a couple of Leonard Cohen covers (Chelsea Hotel No 2 and a version of Hallelujah that might not quite meet Jeff Buckley’s superlative version, but leave’s Rufus’ own version on the Shrek soundtrack standing).

It’s amazing, one of best gigs I’ve ever seen. Our fabulous seats make it even better as we catch every expression, every knowing glance, every little nuance.

It’s also the first seated gigs I’ve been to for ages. Well seated until the end that is; I think there were four standing ovations in total, the audience weren’t about to surrender him without a fight.

The first ‘encore’ sees Rufus and the band return in white robes and undertake a Britney style dance routine, you had to see it, but trust me people were crying with laughter. I’m not entirely sure why Rufus was then stripped to a blue tunic, had a sparkly mask, crown of thorns and red lippy applied and ‘crucified’ by two roadies dressed as roman centurions, but I’d loved to have been there at the moment the idea was first mooted to the hurly bearded pair.

Subsequent encores find Rufus in a dressing gown…and socks. A look he alone in the world can pull off.

Beautiful songs and charm personified – we weren’t disappointed. I’ll be buzzing off this one for ages.

Oh what a world it seems we live in...sigh!

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