Music review: Rufus Wainwright, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

NOT that Rufus Wainwright ever needs an excuse to celebrate his fabulousness but he has chosen to mark his 20 years in showbusiness by revisiting his first two formative albums with a full band and “no nudity – unfortunately”.

Wainwright: like a gothic Victorian ringmaster

Rufus Wainwright, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****

The theatricality was instead mostly contained in the music, though Wainwright did manifest as a gothic Victorian ringmaster to perform highlights from his self-titled debut album.

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April Fools showcased what a great blithe pop writer he is, while Barcelona highlighted his balladeer chops before the grand flourishes set in. The hallmarks of his style – the soaring legato notes, the piano patterns, the arrangement quirks – were all there from these earliest forays.

He paid tribute to his fellow Canadian musical inspirations, including mum Kate McGarrigle, with the retort of Beauty Mark. He invoked Leonard Cohen on the timeless croon of Sally Ann with its soft devotional female backing vocals and covered Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now with a lingering longing.

The second half was given over to a track-by-track rendering of his coming-of-age second album Poses, with the jaunty, irreverent Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk and the melancholic brooding of the title track executed while decked in a magnificent and wholly impractical coat of many colours.

The music was multi-coloured too. The satisfying freewheeling AOR of Grey Gardens was followed by the stealthy chanson Rebel Prince, while he delivered his dad Loudon Wainwright’s country confessional One Man Guy like a yearning Linda Ronstadt number, before blessing the congregation with a candle-waving cover of The Beatles’ Across the Universe. - FIONA SHEPHERD