Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wainwright Family Christmas Album

Well, we had a lovely time at the show. It definitely had a very seat-of-the-pants, family living-room feel to it, which made it both endearing and a little odd when you realized you had paid over $60 to witness it in Carnegie Hall. Mrs. Nator has a theory that Rufus Wainwright was told since he was born that we was the most wonderful, prettiest boy in the room, and thus he feels free to do whatever he feels on stage and people will still love him. I imagine he's had some criticism, particularly from his father, but a combination of talent, charisma, privilege, defiance, lack of performance anxiety and naturally massive ego overcame it. Thus endeth the psychological analysis.

Anyway, there were definitely rough parts to the show, but overall it was enjoyable. David Byrne was a no-show, but Laurie Anderson was vintage weird Laurie Anderson (she can do no wrong with me since she asked me onstage with her during a performance piece in, Lord, 1989 or 90 I think), and Lou Reed was vintage New York-cool Lou Reed, playing it up for a funny duet on White Christmas with Rufus. Teddy Thompson and family added a bit of British humour to the mix, including a folksy rendition of Wham!'s "Last Christmas" and a ditty which began "Christmas is crap." He has a very nice voice, indeed. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (go figure), while not the best singer, performed a very earnest anti-war Christmas song he wrote which induced Mrs. Nator to dub him a lesbian. I thought Jimmy Fallon would irritate me, but he did a self-mocking version of the Ramones' "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" and a gleefully goofy duet with Martha Wainwright on "Baby, It's Cold Outside" that won me over.

Speaking of Wainwrights, Martha wins me over, as well, a little bit each time I see her. I find her compulsive writhing while singing a bit annoying, and sometimes her voice irritates me, but other times she hits just the right rough-edged soprano reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper and Kate Bush that is very impressive. Anyway, she was nothing in the writhing department compared to Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), whose performance style was like Joe Cocker goes gay emo goth. I'd never heard of him before; he does have a very arresting voice, for sure, but I'm not sure I could listen to a full CD of depressive drama. I'll have to find out more about him.

Others in the Wainwright clan who appeared included Sloan Wainwright - who rocked a very soulful version of Queen's "Thank God It's Christmas" - assorted cousins and others, including Lily Lanken, who sung in a clear soprano on almost every song but looked like the world's most embarassed, self-hating teenage while doing it, and both Anna and Kate McGarrigle. Kate only played on one song and the encore, giving a tearful speech thanking everyone for coming and her family for taking such good care for her. I'm not sure what illness she has that has weakened her so, but it made it worth the expense of tickets to think some of that money might go towards her medical costs.

Naturally, Rufus was the star of the show, and whereas Mrs. Nator favoured his version of "O Holy Night" in the original French, my favourite was his soaring, aching, gloriously over-the-top rendition of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve," which brings out my inner weeping drag queen every time (that and Judy Garland's late-life rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - oy, the Weltenschmerz! But I digress...). Oh, and I loved his little Tyrolean-style hat and outfit, no doubt in homage to his boyfriend, Jörn Weisbrodt, who works at the Berlin Opera. Makes you wonder if he's going to write the opera the Met commissioned in German. (God, I'm such a queen.)

Anyway, we had a great time, despite being berated by an usher for "recording the music". (I showed him that my "recording device" was a camera, much like other people were using, and he said "other people" would think I was "recording", so if I didn't put it away they'd take it from me. I did get some photos, though, which you can see here.) The most important part was that Mrs. Nator had fun and was inspired to re-consider and perhaps actually sing at her office Christmas party as everyone has been requesting, so Merry Christmas to her!

As for me, I've been asleep most of the day, and now have several dozen cookies to make. Excuse me if I croon while I bake...


Chaucer's Bitch said...

i have never heard of the wainwrights. i have no idea what this is all about.

claire said...

Oh, so cool.
I do wish i had heard about this concert before. TheBoy would have loved this for his xmas present. Poop.
Sounds like it was a great show! I will totally agree that Rufus is weird and has a massive ego, but really is talented, so its easy to let it go.
Also: "compared to Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), whose performance style was like Joe Cocker goes gay emo goth.", This is the best descriptive imagery - like ever. Now i have to find out who this guy is.

Helen the Felon said...

I so love your reviews. (You really are a screaming queen, by the way.)

You are SO spot on about Rufus...every interview I read, I just want to smack him. The interviewer will ask what kind of soup he likes, and he'll go off into "And then, Courtney Love and Robert DeNiro and I borrowed Michael Stipe's car without asking..." But then he starts singing, and I totally forgive him and want to be his beard all over again.

And Martha...I can see where she'd annoy some people, but from the first time I heard "Bloody Motherfucking Asshole," I've been a little bit in love with her.

Have fun with your cookie...I mean, cookies...