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The Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Craig Fitzpatrick, 29 Aug 2012
The Iveagh Gardens with its high walls, sushi and white wine is a million miles from fast food stalls and the threat of trench foot. On the night, it produced a curiously subdued atmosphere.
The relaxed crowd is to be expected; the constant chatter is not. As a result, in the open air, Rufus Wainwright’s intimate, smoky lounge songs struggle to be heard. And our star, while impeccable in both dress (dashing red jacket, if you’re wondering) and performance, seems a little perturbed.
Mostly, the resulting banter is tongue-in-cheek and genuinely refreshing in its honesty. He implores the gathered faithful to buy his latest album or else “this will be the last time you ever see me.” The joke is about to fall flat, but he saves himself with a “shoulda named the album Adele” quip.
In song, he scarcely puts a foot wrong. This evening’s soiree gives a generous airing to his latest album, the dance-ified, Mark Ronson-produced Out Of The Game. In many ways, it follows the lead of 2007’s Release The Stars in losing the orchestral overtones, all the better to wow the unconverted. The titl-track carries a nice strut, turning the patented Rufus sigh glam-wards, whilst ‘Bitter Tears’ employs Pet Shop Boy synths and moves playfully about the dancefloor whilst making eyes at Jake Shears.
It all goes back to Bowie and Elton John. ‘Bitter Tears’ is prefaced with an invitation to dance: no one does. Perhaps it’s the setting, which is for lazing around. The backing is powered by a four-guitar-strong band, who do a mean ‘70s blues turn but occasionally threaten to engulf him.
The best is kept for the end. He leaves the stage, and returns alone, sits at the piano, forgets himself, and launches into some Poses-era beauties. ‘Cigarettes And Chocolate Milk’ in particular is magnificent. It’s the sound of a 21st Century Cole Porter gleefully listing his vices and encapsulates the spark that led the world (well, the discerning music world) to fall for the precocious young talent in the first place.