'A graceful performance from a totally charming and side-splitting host.'
Sean Kerwick

10:05 13th June 2015

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Rufus Wainwright has been fairly quiet recently, but came out of popstar hibernation to play for a good cause; for the sake of the Chelsea Pensioner’s Home. The Canadian singer/songwriter gave an intimate run of the hits to a rain drenched crowd. 

The minimal instrumentation proved that the stellar songwriting littered throughout his back-catalogue transcends way beyond the grandiosity in the original recording, proving all Wainwright requires is a piano and his crystal-clear voice. ‘Going To A Town’ is just as intense without the stirring strings and backing singers and ‘The Art Teacher’ flourishes without the assistance of its orchestral accompaniment. 

He went on to premiere two forthcoming projects, one from his opera which is airing on “BBC Classical or something?” and one of Shakespeare’s sonnets in song form to celebrate 400 years since the writer’s death. “One of the Chelsea Pensioners came up and said to me, I’m more familiar with your Dad and Grandfather’s work, Loudon Wainwright II and III, this one is about the third.” He said as he went on to perform an ode to his parents in ‘Want’. 

Wainwright was joined by a very special guest mid-way through the set, “I’ve loved this man’s music ever since I was a little gay boy” Rufus explained before inviting Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys to the stage to perform a dueted rendition of ‘Poses’, their differing voices projected a wonderful and unique harmony.

The chipper ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk’ saw the beautiful setting celebrate indulgence, whilst Wainwright’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ brought the evening to a fitting close.

Despite a smidgen of clunky guitar-work, Wainwright delivers a graceful performance which sees him suited to the impressive backdrop of the Chelsea Pensioner’s home, but adds enough charm, cheekiness and humour to make you feel in total comfort.

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Photo: Wenn