Rufus Wainwright at Royal Albert Hall. Credit: BBC/Andy Paradise

Rufus Wainwright performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall this week for the BBC Proms – honouring Jeff Buckley as well duetting with Jake Shears as he played his classic albums ‘Want One’ and ‘Want Two’ in full.

Joined by the BBC Concert Orchestra on Tuesday (September 5) to deliver two separate sets to mark the 20th anniversary of his breakthrough third album ‘Want One’ from 2003 and the 2004 sister record ‘Want Two’, the night saw a fittingly opulent, full-bodied and sumptuous delivery of Wainwright’s most essential work.

Towards the end of the second set for ‘Want Two’, Wainwright invited the billed special guest of Scissor Sisters‘ Jake Shears to the stage for closer ‘Old Whore’s Diet’, and noted how they used to date.

“I do have to tell you a little story about the two of us, many years ago,” Wainwright began.

“We went to a concert – Ween in Philadelphia. We made out in the car, it was lovely. At that time, ‘Want One’ was coming out and I’d just finished it. Jake was playing me late-stage demos of The Scissor Sisters’ first album. I was playing through it and I was like, ‘Wow, this is really amazing – this is a fantastic album’. Then I had this older man talk with him where I was like, ‘Well, you know – it’s really great, but don’t be disappointed if nothing happens…'”

Shears continued: “He was like, ‘Be prepared, this might not work out!’ I appreciated it.”

“I can’t believe we’ve never sung together.”

Other highlights of the two sets included rousing outings of ‘Art Teacher’, ‘Go Or Go Ahead’, ‘Oh What A World’, ’14th Street’ – and Wainwright dedicating ‘Memphis Skyline’ to the late Jeff Buckley.

“It’s a lot of people’s show tonight, mine and the orchestra and everybody, but it’s especially exciting because we have the amazing Matt Johnson on drums,” said Wainwright during the second set. “He played on a lot of these songs originally, and I haven’t sung some of these in quite a while.”

Introducing ‘Memphis Skyline’, he later added: “Matt and I, years ago, started at the same time – although he had success earlier because he played with the great Jeff Buckley on his record. I met him once, and we had a really wonderful evening together.

“Thankfully, before I did my version of ‘Hallelujah’ for Shrek, I’d never heard his version. I was listening to a lot of opera at that time and wasn’t listening to a lot of other stuff. I did the Shrek version of ‘Hallelujah’, that did quite well, and finally one day I had the chance to sit down and really listen to Jeff’s version. I was completely transfixed, bowled over and slightly jealous! I ended up writing this next song, which is called ‘Memphis Skyline’, so this is for Jeff and all those who are somewhere else.”

See more footage below, and listen to the ‘Want One’ symphonic in full on BBC Sounds here, and the ‘Want Two’ show here.

Wainwright’s latest album ‘Folkocracy‘ is out now, as is Shears’ second solo album ‘Last Man Dancing‘. The Scissor Sisters frontman will also be starring alongside Self Esteem in a new London production of Cabaret.

Meanwhile, a biopic of Buckley’s life titled Everybody Here Wants You is also in the works, and has been described by the late icon’s mother as “the only official dramatisation of Jeff’s story”.

The post Rufus Wainwright duets with Jake Shears and honours Jeff Buckley at Royal Albert Hall appeared first on NME.


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