“There’s nothing like a little glamour, right?” NYC troubadour Rufus Wainwright asked a comfortably packed audience in Atlanta last night (Aug. 13) before taking the stage at the Tabernacle. As 100-degree temperatures soaked the outside walls of the famed renovated church, Wainwright, alongside songstress Neko Case, delivered one of the hottest performances this summer.
The porcelain-faced Case, who’s expressive, warm anthems and subtly commanding stage presence made her status as every hipster boy’s dream lady, graced through the best of her solo catalog including “That Teenage Feeling” and “Hold On, Hold On” — it was obvious that the source of everyone’s goose bumps was not the chill of the venue’s air conditioning.
Playing to an audience of “belles and beaus” and “excited to play the South,” Wainwright presented a veritable three-act musical resembling something between and World War II-era USO showcase, Broadway production, and the old timey piano set of standards. Bare-chested in a glittered barbershop-striped tuxedo during act one, Wainwright relayed impressive new tracks from his latest LP, Release the Stars, including “Sanssouci,” and the anti-patriotic “Going to a Town.” With the timely lamentations of “I’m so tired of America,” Wainwright dedicated the show to outgoing political adviser Karl Rove, and explained the stars on his black and white American flag backdrop represented “the wonderful things about America.”
After inviting a fan onstage to perform the spoken word segment of “Between My Legs,” act two commenced with Wainwright donning lederhosen, singing through the disjointed decadence of “Do I Disappoint You,” a turn at the old Irish folk song “Macushla” sans microphone, and a beautiful bombastic finale of “14th Street.”
In a highly unexpected third act, Wainwright reemerged wearing only a bathrobe and took to the piano to duet with his sister Lucy Wainwright on the Leonard Cohen classic “Hallelujah.” Immediately following, Wainwright cross-dressed with grace in fishnets, heels, tuxedo jacket and fedora, dancing in a fully choreographed routine to Judy Garland’s “Get Happy.” From heavily emotive to flashy and flamboyant, Wainwright’s contemporary classy cabaret was so much more than just a beautiful sight to behold. You better believe fans left happy.
We asked: Since Rufus Wainwright’s new album is entitled Release the Stars and many of his lyrics touch on astrology, what’s your favorite constellation?