I’d never seen Rufus Wainwright before he strolled onto the Minnesota Zoo stage wearing the tightest, shiniest pants, a matching bomber jacket, and patent oxford shoes, no socks. Sitting at the piano alone on stage, he proclaimed he loved the outdoor amphitheater because it made him feel—a toss of his hair—“dramatic.”
And with that we were off. A crowd full of young and old sat in the palm of Wainwright’s hand (yep, me too) as he launched right into the swooning "Grey Gardens." I'd never been so close to someone so shiny and offhandedly fabulous. He slouched as he played; the music seemed to spill out of his mouth like mercury, easy even when he cracked at a note during the audience-endearing "Vibrate."
I had the sense of being in a much smaller space (the amphitheater has that effect), listening to a man singing poetry about a world much different than mine: trips to South America, his absent father, a taste for substances, a dying mother, his Kennedy family connection. But it didn’t alienate me; it enveloped me.
The electrifying highlight? After a romp with his half-sister Lucy Wainwright Roche dressed as Liza Minelli, Wainwright silenced our applause by launching into an a capella take on "Candles," which the whole audience seemed to know was written for his now-passed mother without saying a word.