Saturday, April 13, 2013

Paul Simon & Rufus Wainwright

Paul Simon + Special Guest, Rufus Wainwright (solo)
Vector Arena, Auckland
Mon 8 Apr 2013

Here's another one with a dream line-up. Rufus Wainwright's a bit of an acquired taste (with the Broadway musical/Judy Garland obsession, wearing a toga etc.) but capable of breath-taking songwriting. (His sister Martha's first LP is also very dear to me)
I've not seen him live before, so the opportunity to see him solo, with just him and a piano (apart from two songs on guitar) was a huge treat.

Wainwright is an incredible piano player and his playing on 'Who Are You New York' (a song that I've been listening to a lot lately) was a definite highlight, along with 'Montauk' (which I'm not ashamed to say brought tears to my eyes).

He told a story about meeting Jeff Buckley (during which he was heckled) and then performed 'Memphis Skyline', which is his tribute to him, quickly moving into his version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' (which was also covered by Buckley).

Despite being a majestic pianist, Wainwright's guitar playing is somewhat primitive. Despite that, his bashing along to his latest LP 'Out of the Game's title track provided an up-tempo treat in more maudlin (in a good way) set.

Paul Simon is touring to commemorate 25 years since the release of his ground breaking (and controversial) solo LP 'Gracelands' and accordingly it provided the backbone of his set (opening with 'Gumboots', playing 'Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes' late in the main set, with 'Gracelands' coming in the encore). He represented his early eighties pre-Africa material with a very moving versions 'Still Crazy After All The Years' and 'Slip Sliding Away'.

As you'd imagine, whilst his solo songs were greeted with rapturous reception from the greying crowd (who clearly saw Rufus Wainwright as being a bit challenging), even greater reaction came from his airing of Simon & Garfunkel classics; 'Me & Julio, Down By The School Yard' came up as the second song, 'Only Living Boy In New York', Simon's solo rendition of 'Sound Of Silence' added a level of grown-up world-weariness, then at the end of the set, Wainwright returned to the stage to fill Art Garfunkel's vocal parts on an incredible rendition of 'The Boxer'.
Paul and Rufus - Boxing On...
Simon played for a good two hours, covered all bases and clearly demonstrated the strength of his entire back catalogue.

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