Rufus Wainwright on Tour
By Neal Broverman
Sandwiched between two Bens (Lee and Folds), Rufus Wainwright stood out as the enigmatic star of the show when the 'Odd Men Out' tour hit Los Angeles recently. The performance was the second of two L.A. shows on the triple-billed act, which tours through the end of August. The openly queer troubadour clocked a relatively short set at the Wiltern Theatre, managing to bounce out the hits while also teasing the audience with new material. The new country-oriented songs, including 'Katonah,' were assisted by Wainwright's half-sister Lucy Roche, who provided gentle and romantic backup vocals. 'The Art Teacher' was the first recognizable music performed and it retained the wistful beauty of the Want Two album cut, even though it was sped up a bit. Other fan favorites included 'Rebel Prince,' 'Vibrate,' 'Poses,' and 'Gay Messiah,' all presented with genuine emotion. Rufus kept his conversations with the audience to a minimum, seemingly saving his energy for the songs. When 'Beautiful Child' was performed, the music soared and swelled, enrapturing the entire audience. The stage set-up was sparse and Rufus' outfit was basic black, reminding us that this artist is about the music. His three-piece band accentuated Wainwright's unforgettable voice and segued seamlessly from ballads to the more upbeat numbers. After closing his set with the appropriate 'California,' some Rufusheads took off, but the ones who stayed for the Ben Folds performance were in for a special treat: a surprise Wainwright and Folds duet of George Michael's 'Careless Whisper.'