Review: Rufus Wainwright at Perth Concert Hall

Review By Tatum Stafford


There was a sort of magic in the air as the sold-out crowd were ushered into the Perth Concert Hall on Friday night. There were quiet gasps of delight when people noticed the dainty hanging lightbulbs from the ceiling, and smiles when we observed the cabaret tables setup at the foot of the stage. This was going to be much more than an average concert.


There’s no doubt that Rufus Wainwright’s stellar talent proceeds him. The Grammy nominee has seven albums to his name, and a slew of self-composed hit songs which the audience were buzzing to hear live. After a warm welcome, he sat at the piano and a hush fell over the crowd, waiting for his program to begin.


Wainwright’s song list for the occasion was inspired. Die-hard fans were rewarded with ‘Jericho’, ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk’ and ‘Going to a Town’, and those more familiar with traditional standards enjoyed renditions of Leonard Cohen’s ‘So Long, Marianne’, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and Irving Berlin’s ‘How Deep is the Ocean’.


As a musical theatre fan myself, I was delighted to hear Wainwrights cover of Jean Renoir’s ‘La Complainte de la Butte’, which was prominent in the 2001 hit musical film Moulin Rouge. Paying homage to the weekend’s theme of ‘Kabarett Haus’, Wainwright also invited local Weimar enthusiast and performer Meow Meow for the stirring ‘Tango Ballad’ from Three Penny Opera, and a fantastic rendition of ‘Happy Days/Get Happy’ as popularised by Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland.


Wainwright was personable and playful with the audience throughout the show, but as he re-entered the stage for the encore, a hush fell on us all as the opening chords to the seminal Leonard Cohen song ‘Hallelujah’ rang out through the hall. It was a remarkably moving performance, and a beautiful way to conclude the evening.


Those lucky enough to have been in the room for Rufus Wainwright’s one-night-only engagement here in Perth aren’t likely to forget it anytime soon. The beautifully moving evening served as a true reminder of how fortunate we are to have such an iconic event as the Perth International Arts Festival to welcome such renowned talent to our venues. I’m sure those in attendance are unanimous in the belief that we’d delight if Wainwright were to return to our shores in the near future.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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