Rufus Wainwright at Avalon, Boston

Post Author: Joe Stahl

For his second time in Boston this summer, Rufus Wainwright decided to grace his presence at Avalon, a much smaller and more intimate venue than the Bank of America Pavilion he performed on in mid June. This time around, Wainwright brought The Magic Numbers and A Fine Frenzy, guests that were polar opposites to his Bank of America mates Cyndi Lauper and Erasure.

After about an hour and fifteen minutes of the openers, Wainwright pranced onstage in a getup that would make Elton John proud: a flashy pinstriped suit opened to allow for a gaudy gold necklace and copious chest hair. And to compliment Wainwright‚Äôs blinding suit, the six other band members flaunted flamboyant colors. Wainwright opened with the epic “Release The Stars”. It was a poignant first impression for a crowd at full attention, one that didn’t miss a beat when he unwaveringly moved to his piano and began to sing his politically driven, current single, “Going To A Town”.

By this time, Rufus had assured the unknowing and unbelievers of his live talent, and he tempered the set with some lesser-known songs from his newest album, Release The Stars. Soon after, the crowd handed Wainwright their loudest applause of the night with one of his heaviest numbers, “The Art Teacher”, which he performed with clarity and sympathy. The next two songs marched along solemnly, darkened in mood by a low-lit stage. Wainwright digressed from that fifteen to twenty minutes emotional roller coaster by talking about a YouTube contest which awarded winners the chance to dance on stage to one song, which for his night in Boston would be “In Between My Legs”, a song he announced tongue flamboyantly in cheek.

After a short intermission, lights dimmed as Wainwright reentered in an Austrian settler outfit and began with “A Harvester of Hearts”, which didn‚Äôt do much for pacifying the crowd. “Do I Disappoint You” followed, with gorgeous orchestral arrangements and belted vocals. Wainwright then shifted direction with a few old Judy Garland heartbreakers. Since Garland’s been a gay icon longer than rainbows, it was a smash.

The encore started off with Wainwright in a white bathrobe that was inevitably hiding something extravagant. He played two slow-tempo songs, and then eased to front and center stage to initiate his final costume change, which occurred during a cover of the song, “Get Happy”. The song was performed with band mates dressed in black and white suits dancing around the now in-drag Rufus Wainwright. Wainwright concluded with “The Gay Messiah” and forgot the lyrics to one verse. It didn’t register with his starry-eyed audience after an extraordinary two and a half hour performance.