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ISSUE 115 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/8/2002

Wainright reigns right

By Erin Piel
Staff Writer

Friday, March 8, 2002

Cigarettes and chocolate milk,anyone? If these are just a couple of your cravings, then perhaps you and a very interesting performer named Rufus have something in common, besides song titles off popular-selling CDs. Rufus Wainwright appeared at First Avenue last Wednesday night, and thanks to the lovely people at KSTO, I got to see the sold-out show. Guest lists are beautiful things when they work, and now that First Ave fired the incredibly incompetent Ian (the former free ticket guy), guest lists go so much more smoothly. Now, if only the people who are in charge of getting performers to the stage and off in a timely fashion could get their act together. My concert buddy and I knew something was a slightly amiss as far as timing was concerned when we were able to go up to the bar and order drinks ten minutes before the opening band was supposed to take the stage and we didnt have to wait or shove our way through a crowd of people. To pass the time, Dumbo was playing on the big screen dividing the stage from the audience. It had been quite some time since Id last seen that movie, and it is fairly amusing to watch the drunken elephant scene with a completely different soundtrack playing -- music Disney probably wouldnt have approved of. By 10 p.m., the place was starting to fill up, which I took as a good sign that things would start soon. But I had been saying that the past two hours and was beginning to wonder if this whole delay was an elaborate, sly attempt by the establishment to bore me into buying even more drinks. Finally, the opening act, Teddy Thompson, took the stage a smidge after ten, and the fun began. I had never heard of this guy before but was incredibly grateful that he was playing because the tarantula-hair girl in front of me turned around and faced forward so the dreads springing forth in all directions from her head quit poking me in the neck. Teddy crooned for about half an hour and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance. His songs were very emotional and heart-felt, and had I not been pretty sure it was just sweat, I would have thought he was crying. His British accent is not noticeable in his singing, but during his little monologues in the interludes between songs, you can hear just how terminally British he is. We waited another half hour before Rufus came out, during which time even more people crammed onto the floor (I bet fire codes cause them quite a few headaches) and I got in a derriere shoving match with tarantula-hair girl. Thankfully, Rufus strutted out on stage and put an end to that. The majority of the songs he played were from his most recent CD, entitled Poses, which I appreciated since Im a much bigger fan of that album as opposed to his self-titled first album. However, he did play a nice mix of old and new, yet-to-be released and special soundtrack songs, the most memorable being Complainte de la Butte from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, sung almost entirely in French. The crowds favorite was Hallelujah, a remake of the original version from the movie Shrek. Being a bit of an eccentric performer, Wainwright made the evening memorable on a number of occasions, such as burping loudly in the middle of a very pretty and soft piano and voice solo piece. Perhaps he should switch to water as opposed to Heineken as his drink of choice while performing. On a number of occasions, he flat-out forgot the words, or sang the wrong ones, and after swearing loudly, cut the whole band off and made them start again. Of all the concerts Ive attended at First Ave, this one was by far the longest (three encores!), leaving a completely satisfied but tired audience member the daunting task of making the long trek back home. However, remembering which ramp we parked in and making a beeline for it did speed up Operation Homeward Bound considerably from previous experiences. You know how after youve attended an especially good concert, you play that artists CD over and over again? Poses is definitely one of those CDs to overplay -- to appreciate the very distinctive voice and style of Rufus Wainwright.

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