Gig review: Rufus Wainwright, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

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Rufus Wainwright jokingly referred to our evening together as a “fashion extravaganza”, and he seemed particularly keen to show off a Jean-Paul Gaultier outfit, which offered three looks in one.

Rufus Wainwright

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Star rating: * * * *

First an Anna Wintourish combination of black cape, black sunglasses, black leather trousers and a lengthy brown bob, then a black leather two-piece suit, and finally just the trousers and a vest. .

Lest we forget, he was here to play music as well. For most of this show his role was that of the esteemed, but reserved classic singer-songwriter, moving between guitar and piano through the chugging Beatles beat of April Fools, the laid-back country of Respectable Dive and the gospel-tinged Out of the Game. An early section saw him generously hand over a tribute to his late mother Kate McGarrigle to backing artists Teddy Thompson and Krystle Warren with versions of Saratoga Summer Song and I Don’t Know respectively.

The highlights were bunched towards the end: Sometimes You Need, his favourite song from the latest album; a version of Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows with Cohen’s son Adam’s swinging vocal in support; and Wainwright set staples Going to a Town and Montauk. Yet all paled next to the brilliant, bizarre volte face of the encore, with the singer reinvented as Greek god Rufus Apollo, leading a crowd of audience members through the aisles and onto the stage to the grinding funk of Bitter Tears and then performing Gay Messiah with his head enshrouded in a foam baguette. Only someone with real style could make that work.