Rufus Wainwright, ‘Live from the Artists Den’ (Artists Den Records/UMe)
This live recording, available on both CD and Blu-ray, presents singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright’s poignant, memorable performance of May 17, 2012, first broadcast on the PBS show “Live from the Artists Den.”
Wainwright selected a wonderfully atmospheric setting for the concert; Manhattan’s beautiful Church of the Ascension. The set list draws from his own catalogue and that of his late mother’s, folk singer Kate McGarrigle.
In fact, Wainwright conjures up his mother’s memory in the opening song, “Candles” (from his 2012 album “Out of the Night”), a heartstring-pulling number about trying to find just the right place to light a candle in his mother’s memory. Later in the set he performs “On My Way to Town,” a song his mother wrote with her sister, Anna, which features a gentle piano accompaniment. You can hear him whispering “Thank you, mom,” at the song’s end.
In black tails, gold sequined trousers, and cooler-than-thou sunglasses, Wainwright cuts something of a louche figure, one reason why it’s more fun watching the show that simply listening to it.
And he brings everyone to their feet in the high-spirited closing number, “Bitter Jesus,” calling out to the crowd, “Let’s go Baptist!” It’s a nice upbeat note to end on.
The Blu-ray release has an additional 55 minutes of bonus material as well as the concert.
Those looking for another overview of Wainwright’s work can also pick up “Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright,” released today in single and two CD editions.