It’s frankly depressing as wafting over their heads and in between their inane braying conversations about the weather is the Wainwright voice turning tricks in the dying light, willing them to be entertained. Thankfully pockets of the crowd realise that this is something special, it’s the Rufus dial set to ‘dazzle’, something that had to remain absent on his last tour as he worked through mourning his mother.
This is Rufus in vintage celebration mode and we’re the last ones to leave the party. It seems even his image has taken a carefree gambol into times past,the flowing locks are back and with his velvet jacket, sparkly t-shirt and shades, he has the breezy air of an insouciant Warholian brat dispensing hair raising advice with a wink.
He jaunts effortlessly through a selection of new album treats with his band in muscular powerhouse form, most notably backing vocalist Charice adding weight to the acapella show opener Candles and lifting the lounge core feel of ‘Barbara’ into a more soulful, sophisticated realm. The band not only bring a dynamic force to tracks like Out Of The Game, its soft focus 70’s West Coast feel shining sunlight on our pale faces, but they also offer him some respite, a chance to take a break. Krystle Warren takes the stage and tackles the Kate McGarrigle track I Don’t Know in bone shuddering style and in an unprecedented move, they offer the diva himself, a way to shade from the spotlight as both band members Charice and Sharief add shared vocal duties on a reworking of his father’s One Man Guy.
Although this is not Rufus in a new democratising role, he’s still as starry as ever attacking Liza Minnelli for slagging his Judy Garland tribute show, renaming The Man That Got Away , The Bitch That Got Away before launching into a rendition so painfully pure and spine tingling it would rip Liza’s permanently surprised eyebrows clean off her head. From then on the magic never stops as he pulls a chair up to the piano and does what Rufus does best, pathos by the bucket load. The stomach blow of simple honesty that is the Art Teacher could turn even the chattiest of venues into a hushed church with more than a few audience members letting the lump in their throat rise. He ends as ever with a theatrical flourish delivering the colossal kitchen-sink crammed, glitter encrusted 14th Street taking his vocals to sky rocket heights, ripping his soul clean from heartache and soothing ours in the process. Treating us to an encore of classics from the achingly personal Dinner at 8 to the triumphant Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk he exits in style. The Boss may be on fire elsewhere but tonight the Diva has left us aflame.
Originally published on state.ie