Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rufus at The Old Vic

On making it to the pub to meet Jude and her excellent group of boys, my mood improves almost instantly.

A couple of rounds later, we head on to the Old Vic and mingle with the stars in more ways than one.

On the celebrity front (Denise Van Outen, James Lance, Mark Gatis, Stephen Fry etc) our cup overfloweth as we filed into the stalls and took our excellent seats just 12 rows in (even moving to the empty sets in the centre part way in, for an even more fantastic view).

On the visual front, presumably in keeping with the title of the new album Release the Stars, the theme appears to be stars and stripes, with the black and white stripped backdrop with large silver glittery symbols in the place of stars accompanied by the band dressed in all manner of clashing striped shirts and trousers, with 50 ‘stars’ consisting of glittery broaches pinned randomly across their attire. Better photos of the night can be found here.

And then Rufus appears.

What can one say? Musically sublime, vocally transcendental, exquisite performer, charmingly witty…fashion sense of a deck chair.

Not what one might call a good look; Rufus’ trousers being particularly upsetting.

He also experiences what he describes as a “Liberace moment” when his first spell at the piano suffers a false start as he has to stop to adjust cuffs etc.

Still all such wardrobe misgivings can happily be forgotten, when you have a performer of this calibre, backed by such an excellent band (the brass section are simply awesome). The music just sweeps you up and transports you. I whisper to Jude that moments like this could almost persuade me that I could get into classical music if I only knew how.

After an intermission Rufus returns in the lederhosen featured on the album artwork, working a look that is strangely disarming and works surprisingly well, perfectly complementing his boyish charm.

The evening’s set includes all the material from the new album Release the Stars, plus a few older tracks and a couple of covers. The new album may not quite reach the same overall heights as the Want duo, but key tracks like Tiergarten shine out and, across the board, the songs are transformed to a higher level by the live performance.

Tonight the spoken word duty on Between My Legs is ably undertaken by Francis de la Tour – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Time for the finale.

Rufus returns for the encore in a bathrobe with the band in tuxedos. After a couple of numbers, he pulls up a chair at the front of the stage and applies bright red lipstick, silver earrings and a pair of silver high heels. He then retires to the rear of the stage and hidden by a band member continues to transform as the music starts and the band, now in dance troupe mode, take their places.

Ok the next bit only truly makes sense if you can recall that Judy Garland film (Summer Stock?), in which they put on a show in a barn. In a famous scene, Judy, dressed in an evening jacket and black tights, wears a black fedora hat and sings “Get Happy” (you know the one “Forget your troubles c'mon get happy, you better chase all your cares away. Shout hallejulah c'mon get happy; get ready for the judgement day.”).

Suffice to say that when the last band member drops to the ground they reveal Rufus in full Judy tribute garb (sickeningly good legs) and they then proceed to re-enact the entire routine.

The audience are crying with laughter by the time it finishes and to get an instant standing ovation from this hard to please London audience is no mean feat.

A couple more songs and then we're done. The night was pure class.

If I was Jude’s bitch from the Arcade Fire night back in January, I’m now her bitch twice over. She is the mistress.

1 comment:

Giles said...

"I whisper to Jude that moments like this could almost persuade me that I could get into classical music if I only knew how."

Well, they play more Sigur Ros videos on Classic FM TV than any of the other channels... so we've got some hope yet ;-)