Rufus Wainwright

Jul 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz



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photo of Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright and his eight-piece band perform at the Fox Theater in Oakland, Calif.

Rufus Wainwright begins his set in near darkness at Oakland’s Fox Theater. Only the lowering of the house lights and the glimmer of a handful of flickering candles tell the audience that the artist is about to begin. Next it’s a soaring, a cappella performance of “Candles,” a song from Wainwright’s latest album, Out of the Game: “I tried to do all that I can,” Wainwright sings, “But the churches have run out of candles.”

The solemn spell is soon broken. After “Candles,” the color lights flash on, and there’s Wainwright, decked out in glam shades, a tuxedo jacket and gold lamé trousers, swaying and singing “Rashida,” one of the great pop songs on Game.

It’s a perfect start for a Wainwright concert; the son of singer/songwriters Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle has a rich musical heritage, and a repertoire that ranges from opera and traditional pop to rock ’n’ roll and beyond. Onstage, he weaves easily from his own lush, thoughtful originals to his parents’ folk songs and back.

Wainwright shares the stage with an eight-piece band: outstanding backing vocalists Charysse Blackman, Krystle Warren and Teddy Thompson (who also plays acoustic guitar); keyboardist Andy Burton; saxophonist Tim Ries; drummer Ben Perowsky; bassist/musical director Brad Albetta; and electric guitarist Sharief Hobley. There’s a boatload of talent on that stage, and Wainwright is a generous performer, even giving up the spotlight to Warren and then Thompson at one point, for each of them to sing a cover of a Kate McGarrigle song.

But a lot of the focus in Wainwright’s current tour is on the new record. “The new album has a lovely, old-school ’70s feel to it,” says Wainwright’s front-of-house engineer Suneil Pusari. “My aim is to keep that warmth, space and groove to it.”

Pusari, who has been on Wainwright’s tours for five years, has also worked with a range of artists including Snow Patrol, DJ Shadow, Gomez and Rufus’ sister Martha. He’s currently mixing Wainwright’s shows on an Avid VENUE Profile. “At the moment, we’re doing one-off and promo shows before the proper run of shows begins. We’re also doing quite a few fly shows and picking up boards locally, so the Profile is ideal, as it is so easily available, and I’ll always have a show on a USB stick with me.

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