Concert review - Rufus Wainwright, Birmingham Symphony Hall

Birmingham | Entertainment | Published:

Singer songwriter Rufus Wainwright saved the best until last when he entertained the Birmingham Symphony Hall audience on Saturday night.

Having treated fans to 20 songs from his career and cover versions, the encore saw the Canadian return dressed as the god Apollo.

He led 25 audience members on stage for renditions of Bitter Tears and Gay Messiah, while his band was dressed in an array of costumes including an ancient Egyptian and a circus ringmaster.

Given that the show had started with the singer and his seven backing musicians dressed in modern suits and sunglasses, it was a surreal end to an enjoyable evening.

A large part of the set, including first three songs Candles, Rashida and Barbara, were from his latest album Out Of The Game.

Wainwright is a regular performer in Birmingham and felt on solid ground enough to tease Brummies about their decision to allow the centre to be taken over by a German market, given the damage done by that nation to the second city during World War II.

"You are big people," he joked. He told fans how he loved visiting the city as it represented the "tough side" of England.

He said he always made a point of visiting the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery to see Persephone, a favourite painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.


Highlights of the set included older numbers April Fools, The Art Teacher and Going To A Town, all of which were met with big cheers by fans.

The new material including Montauk and Jericho stood up well when played next to the old favourites.

Wainwright was given a standing ovation following 14th Street, which finished the main set.

But the Symphony Hall will see few finales to match the encore, as an actor dressed as semi-naked Cupid implored the audience to get on their feet and dance to summon back Wainwright, who it was claimed was really a Greek god.

It speaks volumes about the Birmingham crowd's affection for the singer that they participated with gusto, cheering a singer who is welcome to return any time.

By Chris Leggett

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