Monday, March 03, 2008

Rufus Wainwright & Lucy Wainwright Roche -- Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh

No. Not THAT Carnegie Hall. Sorry. Rufus and his half-sister played the Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh (Homestead), PA, on January 3, 2008. What a fantastic way to kick off the new year!

I've been a Rufus fan for a number of years and was anxious to hear him live. I wondered if he would perform in drag or not. Not. Before I ever got a glimpse of him, his sister Lucy strolled onto the stage at the beautiful Carnegie Music Hall, appearing somewhat awkward and shy, and performed a great set of songs. She's a very funny story teller and likes to rib Rufus whenever she gets a chance. And she has a great, soaring, voice that belts out her lifestories in somewhat "Roches" reminiscent phrasing of amusing little vignets. Her mom is Suzzy Roche of the great girl band, The Roches. I loved the Roches when I was in my twenties. I loved Lucy too!

She shared a story about when she and Rufus were children. He used to make her lie, silent and motionless, on the family couch while he performed various operatic arias over her. Lucy was a school teacher for most of her early years and recently quit teaching to perform full time. She gets lost (a lot) on the road and spends a lot of hours alone in her car. She'll tell you all about it when you see her.

Rufus came out dressed in clog shoes, a black jacket, jeans, and a nice shirt. As soon as the first notes of his first song came trickling out of the stage piano, I knew we were in for a treat. He is such an accomplished pianist! He actually studied piano and added his voice later.

His song phrasing is as delicate as any studio CD ... even more pronounced and theatrical on stage. He talked a lot when the mood hit him -- otherwise, he does and sings whatever he pleases. He's so flamboyant ... and you can't help but love him as he stands alone on the empty stage with his piano behind him and a desire thrust forward to be "the next huge STAR" (dammit!) He actually whined that he should have been a much bigger star by now with his accomplished family credentials and that Carnegie Hall, NY, Judy Garland stint. Agreed. He really is amazing. Word has it that his next CD will be an opera. That's fitting for Rufus.

I love this guy. He's talented and funny and deserves a big shot at stardom. Problem is ... his art should be enough to propel him and not his "why not me" declarations. Don't get me wrong. I think he deserves a lot of attention. Awww, who knows? Maybe his whining will get him noticed after all. And wouldn't that be a gift to so many?

I wish I could have seen him with his sister, Martha, though. I really liked Lucy (she's very talented and very entertaining on stage) but I LOVE Martha! Oh well ... maybe next time. He seemed to like the quirkiness of the 'Burgh and the incredible Carnegie Music Hall venue so maybe (fingers crossed) he'll be back again some day.
Tori Amos -- "American Doll Posse"

Tori and her band played Pittsburgh's Benedum Center October 30,2007, to a sold out crowd. I was a "Tori nut" when she first broke into alternative radio playlists with Cornflake Girl. I really liked her sound and was impressed with her lyrics. I purchased "Under the Pink" and "Little Earthquakes" and then nothing until "Boys for Pele." They were all good CD's. I wouldn't have gone out of my way to see her live show but my girlfriend REALLY wanted to see her and got some good tickets.

Her shows are attended by fanatical fans (was that redundant? LOL!) They know every lyric and nuance to her stage performances and, in the end, become part of the show. The woman next to me actually squeeled several times during the first few notes of a song. We ran into a few fans beforehand at a local watering hole. Evidently (we didn't see the message from the band) the show was a Halloween Show and everyone was supposed to dress up. The themes from her songs include a lot of references to organized religion and the fans we ran into were dressed up as Satan and three Altar Boys. They had met her earlier in the day and were very complimentary of Tori's personal attention to their doting. It's nice to hear about such a huge star actually spending time with fans before a big show.

The show itself was mesmerizing. I really didn't know about the concept for the CD or the fact that Tori often dresses up as various evil/good personas named Santa, Isabel, Pip, Clyde, and Tori. Over the years, Tori has suffered from numerous bouts of depression and a very public retelling of a rape. All of the personas represent different aspects of her being. It was a very entertaining part of the show as she totally "became" each persona on stage.

She played simultaneous organ and piano for several of the songs -- stretching her arms and turning around to play the organ at points. I was very impressed with her voice and her ability to really jam. And her costumes were fabulous! My favorite song of the evening was "Caught A Light Sneeze." What an amazing performance vocally.

I would really recommend seeing her live but make sure you dust off the old CD's and watch some of her videos (there are six of them) before going. Otherwise, you'll miss out on all of the audience participation. She has been nominated for a Grammy nine times since she began packaging CD's in 1990. She has sold more than 12 million CD's and is considered one of the most active touring artists in the world.

I'm sure there aren't many folks out there that haven't heard Tori's amazing voice but just in case you're one of them, you may want to check out these sites for more information: and for some great bootleg concerts. Of course you can always read all about Tori at wikipedia
She is truly a gem.

Oh ... and Bruce? Thanks for the nudge. This post is LONGGGGGGGGGGG overdue.