Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rufus the King, the Queen, the Jester

If the man weren't gay, I'd be in love. Heck, maybe I am a little anyway, that kind of far away celebrity love that I like so much because it's safe. All I know is, he makes me smile, when he smiles, throws backs his hair, glows in the dark, wears tights and heels. In other words: What a fantastic concert last night!

The walking, the constant walking...

Okay, so the transit strike is still happening. And as I found out after walking 45 minutes to school, Paris III is still 'blocked'. So, I spent about an hour in the library reading and resting, and then I tried to make my way to the concert. I gave myself a little over 2 hours to get there, which turned out to be enough time, but I was hoping that part of that would have been spent getting a bite to eat before the show. That didn't work out so well.

I first tried the train, because I had checked hourly on the status of the 7 train, which would have taken me almost as far as I needed to go. I stood on the platform for 30 minutes, and there were three trains that went by- all in the other direction, and all back to back, like it was some sort of fluke. The most annoying part was that there was a lot of noise in the tunnel that made it sound constantly as if a train were about to show. But no. So, I resigned myself to walking and headed on my way.
Walking down the street, not 5 minutes after I left the train, it started raining. So, I checked to see what was going on with the bus situation. There was a bus stop nearby, and it turned out that that particular bus would take me almost exactly where I needed to go. The wait time was 15 minutes, so I decided to risk it. Bad idea. The bus was completely packed, and only about half of the people at the stop made it onto the bus- and I was not one of them. Not pushy enough, I guess.

I really didn't want to be a wet, resentful scrooge when I got to the concert, so I tried one last thing. I went to a taxi stand that I remembered being near the Sorbonne. Unlike in other cities, you can't just flag down a cab in Paris; you have to call a taxi and wait for it at a designated taxi stand. It's a little annoying (not that I've taken a cab since the day I moved all of my luggage into my place), but unfortunately, I was not the only one with that idea at that particular stand. No taxis in sight, I decided once and for all to hoof it all the way.

It wasn't so bad, really. My feet hurt a little when I got there, but the concert itself was enough to lift my spirits. The real sad part came when I had to walk home. The concert ended around 11pm, and I figured I probably would have just ended up waiting around for the train that would never come (since service ends around midnight during the week), so I found the most direct route, popped my headphones into my ears and started off. A little over an hour later, and sporting a slight limp, I was home. I will say this though- if you are going to get stuck in a city during a transit strike, Paris is the place to do it; I walked between the Caroussel du Louvre and the Tuileries Garden where the giant, well-lit ferris wheel is, with a view of the Eiffel Tower and puddles on the ground reflecting all the light- and suddenly the 9 or so miles I walked yesterday all made sense. This morning, the balls of my feet may be a little swollen, but I'm alive, and if not kicking, at least still able to walk.

And as for the concert.

What a fantastic show! Rufus started out wearing a neon green and black suit that looked fantastic in the dark (with the help of a black light, I'm sure) and a golden crown of leaves à la Caesar. He had to remove it, since it was sliding off of his head, but he was hoping to pull off a sort of "Gayligula" look- which he pointed out at the first pause. It was fine for me that he had to remove it, though, because then his full hair-tossing potential could be unleashed. For the second act, he changed into lederhosen. Freakin' hilarious.

After the required pretend end of the show, he came back for the encore wearing a big comfy white robe (like you'd find in a hotel room) and played a couple of songs at the piano. All of the other musicians had left the stage for a song between just he and his piano, and when he finished the song, he came to the front of the stage where there was a chair waiting with a bag of goodies. Those goodies just happened to be big flashy costume jewelry, a black fedora and high-heeled shoes, which he slipped on before removing his robe to reveal a black tuxedo jacket (mini-skirt length) and black stockings. Oh, yeah, he also put on some bright red lipstick to go with the ensemble. I tell you, I am jealous of the man's legs. The band members came back onto stage in black suits and some of them served as backup dancers for an amazingly choreographed "Get Happy", which is apparently a leftover from his Judy Garland Carnegie Tribute concert.

I was completely blown away by the live version of some of the songs I had listened to a hundred times (and am listening to right now to relive the experience), particularly "The Art Teacher" and "Slideshow". The former was performed solo on the piano and was so beautiful live that it was like I was hearing it for the first time. "Slideshow" was performed with full lights and sound, accentuating the emotion with technocolor, which was incredibly fun. Rufus performed a few more of Judy's songs, and also sang an Irish folk song that his mother had requested of him, this one in the traditional Irish tenor style with a French horn accompaniment and no microphone. Boy can really project.

One of the best parts of the show was listening to Rufus speak French, which he can do pretty well. But every time he didn't know a word or phrase, he'd just seamlessly shift to English. It was a nice use of Franglais. He said that if his album went gold, he would learn to speak French fluently. He then went on to ask everyone to stop buying his album so he wouldn't have to. His banter was very amusing. I especially liked the part where he played some older songs, and introducing "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" he said that during his second album, it was apparently chocolate that was more of a vice to him than cigarettes (which leads one to believe that he had put on a little weight at the time). Before "Not Ready to Love", Rufus asked the audience to tell him that we love him. We just thought, "Of course we love you, Rufus" and went ahead and said so. He followed it up with the back of his hand across his brow and "I can't" (in French, of course), and led right into the song (the title is also the first line, with an "I'm" beforehand to make a full sentence).

I was very lucky to be seated where I was. Sure it was the back row on the side (normally a pretty crappy seat), but there were some people at the end of the row who didn't show up, so I was able to move down the row to see Rufus at the piano, or stay in my seat when he was at center stage. And I was able to stand up without annoying anyone. I don't think I've ever been to a concert where everyone stayed seated the whole show. It was a little disconcerting. So, to put things right, I stood.

No Slideshow Here

If you couldn't tell, I really enjoyed the concert and wanted to chronicle it for you, and for my own memory. I didn't take pictures so that the images might stay in my head longer and stronger, instead of relying on a camera to remember for me.

If you ever get the chance to borrow a Rufus Wainwright album, and you have not listened to him before, I highly recommend you take a listen. He is entertaining and thoughtful. And if I can imaginarily love him [;)], so can you.

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