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June 4, 2008

Rufus Wainwright Live @ Hampton Court Palace

Last night we caught Rufus Wainwright's show, which is part of 2008's Hampton Court Palace Festival. The festival includes such esteemed artists as Jools Holland, Van Morrison, the Buena Vista Social Club... the list goes on. If you choose the VIP package then you're even treated to hospitality by Gordon Ramsey.

For those brave enough to weather the English summer, guests were invited to picnic in the stunning palace gardens. We weren't feeling brave, and since it poured right up until the show started, we made a good decision. As soon as we were asked to take our seats, though, the rain ceased and we were lucky enough not to get soaked despite the open-air seating.

For those familiar with the palace, at one time the favourite home of Henry VIII, the sound stage was set up in the first courtyard as you enter from the West Gate. For those unfamiliar, here's an aerial view, courtesy of Google Maps.

You've got to love Google Maps. The Festival setup is actually shown in the picture, with the blue covered section clearly visible. It's an intimite setting with surprisingly good acoustics.

Prior to the concert I only really knew Rufus from one song: the cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" which appears on the soundtrack of the movie "Shrek". A year ago we were treated to an impromptu recital of the song when he was pulled out of the audience at one of our favourite Christmas-time shows, Kiki & Herb.

I had expected a rather dour, seriously musical show, but in fact Rufus's personality shone through his playing, singing and audience patter and the evening turned out to be part concert and part camp cabaret. Rufus sang, Rufus played piano and Rufus even strummed on the guitar.

Even though I didn't know any of the songs, save the perfectly-timed encore of the aforementioned "Hallelujah", it wasn't a problem. The man has such a great voice that he could sing the phone book and still be captivating.

I normally find it hard to get into concerts when I don't know the material, but the performance was so good that I was hooked from the get-go.


wendy said...

I 'found' Rufus through 'Shrek' 2 years ago---besotted ever since--his music has grown and grown on me---second time I've seen him last night---wonderful all round. He sounds as good, if not better, live and I love his camp, risque comments.
(Am 54 and have never been so taken with an artist!Getting more pleasure from his music-and learning about him than any lover--am I sad or have I found heaven?) He so deserves Elton John's accolade.

Kenski said...

Hey Wendy, thanks for stopping by! Hey, you're never too old to be a groupie :-) Growing up I used to be very scornful of other kids who followed bands (well, mostly singers) religiously. Later on in life I find myself doing the same thing (though I try not to scream and faint wherever possible!)

On the offchance I ever get famous (cough) I've already lined up my No. 1 groupie! Best to be prepared, eh?

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