Luminato Festival: All Days Are Nights:Songs for Lulu
June 15, 2010 7:30 p.m. Elgin Theatre
Joseph K. So
A genuinely funny moment happened at the show last night. In the middle of the second half of Rufus Wainwright’s one-man show, he turned to the audience and said he’s dedicating the next song to the Toronto Star, in which the reviewer “compared my opera to a Loblaws bag as opposed to something you’d buy in Louis Vuitton – obviously he’s identified himself as a real label queen.” This was obviously a jab at John Terauds’ review of his Prima Donna. Love him or hate him – and there were no haters at the Elgin Theatre last evening – you can always count on Rufus Wainwright for a good laugh, as he has “the talent to amuse” as Noel Coward would say.
Although the show didn’t start out that way. In fact, a man came out before the start to tell the audience not to applaud until after Wainwright’s exit from the stage. The singer then came on in a black number with a long, long long train, a feathered collar but as usual with chest hair artistically exposed. He proceeded to play his new album as a tribute to his mother, the late Kate McGarrigle. There was no interaction with the audience. On the screen was a constantly morphing projection of eyes (sometimes one, other times a cluster) slowly opening and closing. During one particularly sad moment in the lyrics, a tear drop appeared at the corner of one giant eye. To my eyes – no pun intended – they resembled some exotic jungle plants like black venus fly traps ready to pounce, but that’s just me… If I was left a little underwhelmed by this strange tribute, I don’t think I was alone. The theatre was nearly full, but the applause at the end was tentative.
The second half was a different story. Wainwright became the guy his fans have always loved – sweetly pungent, flamboyant, sexy, willful, adorable, self-centered, and above all consummately entertaining. As with the little quip about the Star and the Loblaws bag, Wainwright wasn’t about to take a put down laying down. The songs in the second half were his chestnuts and the audience was suitably ecstatic. It was a generous program. Billed to last 2 hours including one intermission, I think it was closer to two and a half hours. He was in good voice, the instrument remained flexible and responsive to the end. As an encore, he sang a song written by his late mother, and sweetly thanked his fans for being so supportive during the past year. The audience was sent home happy.