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Rufus Wainwright Does Judy At Carnegie Hall

Rufus Wainwright Does Judy at Carnegie Hall

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

RUFUS Wainwright is held in very high regard by a lot of people. Critics love him (some have hailed him “the chosen one”), fans flock to each album and shows sell out as soon as the tickets are released.

It’s a measure of the performer’s powers that he’s able to indulge his own passions and still sell out places like New York’s Carnegie Hall. Hence, his revival of Judy Garland’s legendary 1961 Carnegie Hall show became one of the hottest tickets of last year.

This double album – recorded from the performances on June 14 and 15, 2007 – boasts all 27 songs, including orchestra adaptations of the original score by Jon Charles & Christopher Jahnke.

How much you enjoy it depends largely on two things: How you rate Wainwright vocally and how much you know about Judy Garland. On the first point, Wainwright brings a sophistication and intelligence to many of the tracks, but the album is at its strongest and most vibrant during Garland’s better-known numbers and certainly during the more upbeat ones.

Just occasionally, it does feel like an indulgence; a self-satisfied journey through a vast back catalogue that allows Wainwright to chat and wax lyrical about one of his greatest inspirations. That in itself makes it something of an acquired taste.

On the plus side, however, the double CD boasts orchestra adaptations of the original score by Jon Charles and Christopher Jahnke, as conducted by Stephen Oremus (of Wicked and Avenue Q fame’) who plays piano on A Foggy Day, You’re Nearer and If Love Were All. The show itself boasts a 36-piece orchestra.

Highlights include the duet of Stormy Weather with Martha Wainwright, an appearance that literally brought the house down, the seminal Garland moment Somewhere Over The Rainbow, featuring a guest appearance from Kate McGarrigie, and the hopelessly romantic Almost Like Being In Love/This Can’t Be Love medley.

Wainwright’s own inimitable charm and style also shine through, making this a treat for anyone lucky enough to have witnessed the show’s live, or those that just couldn’t get tickets.

As previously mentioned, however, it is an acquired taste and doesn’t always captivate as wholeheartedly as it should. But Wainwright is clearly have fun, it’s a respectful labour of love, and the best moments make the whole endeavour extremely worthwhile.

Download picks: When You’re Smiling, Almost Like Being In Love, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Stormy Weather, A Foggy Day, That’s Entertainment

Track listing:
CD1:

  1. Overture: The Trolley Song/Over The Rainbow/The Man That Got Away
  2. When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)
  3. Medley: Almost Like Being In Love/This Can’t Be Love
  4. Do It Again
  5. You Go To My Head
  6. Alone Together
  7. Who Cares? (As Long As You Care For Me)
  8. Puttin’ On The Ritz
  9. How Long Has This Been Going On
  10. Just You, Just Me
  11. The Man That Got Away
  12. San Francisco

Disc 2:

  1. That’s Entertainment
  2. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love
  3. Come Rain Or Come Shine
  4. You’re Nearer
  5. A Foggy Day
  6. If Love Were All
  7. Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart
  8. Stormy Weather (starring Martha Wainwright)
  9. You Made Me Love You /For Me And My Gal / The Trolley Song
  10. Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody
  11. Over The Rainbow (featuring Kate McGarrigle)
  12. Swanee
  13. After You’ve Gone (featuring Lorna Luft)
  14. Chicago
  15. Get Happy