Openly gay musician Rufus Wainwright has released seven studio albums and two live albums to date.
He performed sold-out shows to Chicago's City Winery on Randolph Street on May 4-6. While changing up the set list a bit from other nights, Wainwright joked about this being a greatest-hits tour with no actual radio hits. The evening was kept in his classic style of clever banter in between switching to both piano and guitar playing.
Favorites from his catalogue began with "Beauty Mark," "The Maker Makes" and "Vibrate."
His long-haired personal trainer, Patrick, came out to perform interpretive dances around the stage during "Grey Gardens" and filmed the audience for Wainwright's new app's live stream.
His Mark Ronson-produced single "Out of the Game" was popular among the crowd, and he followed up with "Jericho."
"Sans Souci" was a highlight and "Going to a Town" had Wainwright at his best. His dry sense of humor was ever-present as he joked about the Chicago weather.
He drifted into a song from his opera "Prima Donna" and sang a rendition of a Shakespeare sonnet from a past record. His opener and half-sister, Lucy Wainwright Roche, joined him on the stage, much like his sister Martha has in the past. The Wainwrights are slowly turning into the Jackson 5 and should all tour together in the future.
For the low, low price of $2,989 per person, traveling fans can even sign up for a trip with the singing family ( Rufus, father Loudon, Aunt Sloan, Lucy's mother Suzy, plus Lucy herself ) to Alaska beginning in August on his website. Better tap your ruby-red slippers together because that doesn't include airfare.
Back at the Winery, Lucy dressed as Liza and Patrick as Judy Garland, complete with Dorothy Gale drag. It's his dream come true and we were just spectators along for the ride.
He dedicated his next song, "Gay Messiah," to gay people everywhere and "the newest lesbian in town, Bruce Jenner."
He returned for an encore with a song about his Lucy and then closed with "Poses," reminiscing about his partying lifestyle from the time period where it was originally written.
Wainwright has toured to Chicago many times in the past, from opening for Tori Amos, to playing the MCA, Ravinia and headlining at The Vic, but this was a small intimate venue for him and chance to really connect with the talented artist. Who needs a radio single when you have fans as devoted as this?
For more great concerts, visit www.citywinery.com . Look for the Wainwright app at www.rufuswainwright.com .
Photos and text by Jerry Nunn