Sunday, July 1, 2012

...And From His Lips She Drew the Hallelujah

Last night Compatriot and Fixer took me to see Rufus Wainwright perform at the Power Center, as a birthday present. Rufus is SUCH an amazing present, I wonder how often he is given! I'm not even going to pretend to attempt a bloggish review, what do I know about writing about music? Not that my lack of art history knowledge prevents me from nattering on about art, but perhaps we shouldn't go there.

The few things I'll say: he did a pared down set, just a piano and the occasional guitar. Sadly, no gold lame or feather boas or leiderhosen. Just a patchwork blazer, jeans. Sometimes when he sang at the piano, he would swing his upper body side to side, with his glossy hair flopping back and forth, reminding one of a row of school girls singing on a bus. But not when he was singing intently: and then, it was glorious, the way his voice swelled to fill the hall. If you're going to feel surrounded, this is one if the best possible scenarios. Frequently, his voice luxuriates in languor; it is silky, draped across your sofa, suffering from ennui, but ready for something more exciting. His songs are filled with longing, passion, despair over love lost, absurdities of daily modern life. Some part of me was convinced that if I stared hard enough,I'd be able to see more details of his face, but no, I only got the sparkle vision...Which was suitably starry-eyed.

For the last song of the second encore, Rufus covered Leonard Cohen's* "Hallelujah." Most likely you already know how great this song is, but in case you don't it'd be fun to tool around in! The original continues to inspire passionate responses, easily (and yes, perhaps minorly) demonstrated by the 8,000+ YouTube comments, which naturally devolved into pettishness around differences of opinion, re:

"My deepest and most sincere apologies. I'll take my slovenly ways elsewhere, and leave you to enjoy and fully comprehend this piece of brilliance. I'm terribly sorry for infringing."

Here's Cohen's unmistakeable voice, during a performance in Helsinki (I liked the instrumentation better on this one). {apologies if the videos are a bit wide -- I had trouble altering the width. hmm...}

The version I first knew and loved, incidentally was the lush one from Jeff Buckley, of which one YouTuber said,"Buckley's version's good, but it's a bit over-sung. He's wanking on it too much. Cohen's original has levels that Buckley could not possibly have perceived." See for yourself:

Another? K.D. Lang gave her all at the Juno Awards in 2005:


And to close the circle,  back to Rufus. He sang a wonderful version, but the ones I encountered on YouTube lacked the power he delivered on Saturday. Instead, here we have a cool live one (with expected shoddy video quality) -- with bonus singing from his sister Martha. Segues into "Little Sister" around 4:40.

 Good Night, All. Here's to a wonderful week!

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