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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Review: 'Opera Hunk' Rufus Wainwright's Auckland concert

Posted in: Music
By Kitten Power - 5th February 2008

Review: Rufus Wainwright at Auckland's Powerstation, Monday 4 February 2008.

Rufus Wainwright
Rufus Wainwright kinda prance-struts onto the stage of Auckland's Powerstation. He is oozing camp heat, from his floppy hair, to the scarf tied around his neck and t-shirt emblazoned with "Opera Hunk".

Wainwright's also sporting a greenstone tiki, a welcoming gift from his label which he describes as "kind of a foetal surfboard" then laughs "no, no it's spiritual".

He's flying solo tonight, with the costs of bringing a band down so far deemed too hefty. We, and Hobart, get the dressed down guitar-piano show.

But the loneliness of the stage suits Wainwright. He arches above the piano and the crowd hushes as he launches into gorgeous song after gorgeous song, each dripping with an air of being alone. As he agonises over each lyric you can see what he felt what he wrote each word.

The whole set is gorgeous, but the heart rendering I'm Not Ready To Love does it for me. His eyes closed he loses himself in it - "I'm not ready to love; I'm not ready for peace . . . I'm giving up the dove to the beast."

The mixture of pain and ecstasy Wainwright has been through in his life is etched on his face. From coming out as a teenager, apparently being raped at age 14, becoming addicted to crystal meth, a seemingly fractured relationship with his father - it's all there. You can also see the music that brought him through; from opera, to Jeff Buckley and of course – Judy Garland.

Also an influence, he tells us, is someone a little closer to home, Kiri Te Kanawa. He says he loves her because she's a diva . . . and a bitch. But a "cool bitch" he says, and "she has every right to be".

I am holding out for The Beatles' Across The Universe, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah or a little Judy, but it's not to be tonight. As much as he is clearly inspired by the trio, tonight is all about Rufus.

He finishes with a flourish and promises to be back with a full band after he finishes the opera he is writing, Prima Donna, about the day in the life of an opera singer. If he needs a cool bitch diva to model it on, never mind Dame Kiri, he doesn't need to look any further than himself.

Kitten Power - 5th February 2008