Rufus Wainwright at Royal Hospital Chelsea, gig review: Less is much more for this extraordinary artist

His piano playing is effortlessly casual in a way only a true virtuoso can be

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The Independent Culture

"Is it still raining?" Rufus Wainwright asks from the stage. His drenched audience wave their umbrellas. 

But by the artist’s second song, no one seems to notice the rain anymore.

Sat at the piano during "Les Feux D'Artifice T’Appellent" from Songs For Lulu, Wainwright's voice soars across the courtyard, into a sky bruised with ominous clouds and the tiniest patch of blue.

Theatrical in both mannerisms and performance style, the way he plays – effortlessly casual in a way only a true virtuoso can be – whilst still maintaining that pure tenor is extraordinary.

Fussing over his brooch ("it's impaling my Adam’s apple") he takes it off before playing the whimsical "Cigarettes And Chocolate Milk".

 

Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys is introduced for a rendition of "Pose", while "Sanssouci" is weary nostalgia and fragile longing.

On the guitar Wainwright becomes clumsy and hams it up as he forgets a chorus, returning to the piano for his version of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" at the encore.

Without an orchestra behind him, he only has his own talent and wit to keep him afloat. And strange as it may seem, for Rufus Wainwright it appears that less is much, much more.

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