Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy! – Live At The London Palladium (DVD)
Never one to shy away from charges of being precocious, 2006 saw Rufus Wainwright embark on his most ambitiously risky career move to date. Almost unbelievably, the decision was made to re-stage Judy Garland’s famous 1961 show at New York’s Carnegie Hall, in the same 31-song running order, with Wainwright fronting a 36-piece orchestra. One could almost hear the gasps (“Just who does he think he is?”) rising in the throats of Broadway’s old guard.
Thankfully for all concerned, the show turned out to be a huge critical success, earning repeat performances in London, Paris and Los Angeles. This particular recording dates from the second London show, which took place on February 25th, 2007.
Despite the musical lavishness on offer, this is a no-frills record of a straight orchestral show. Although the sound quality is nothing short of stunning, there is little to distract the viewer from Wainwright’s interpretations of classics such as Over The Rainbow and Puttin’ On The Ritz. Needless to say, the performances are immaculate, if perhaps a little introverted and over-reverential for the first hour or so.
Following an impassioned rendition of Noel Coward’s If Love Were All, something inside the singer seems to loosen up. The remainder of the set is performed in a noticeably more relaxed manner, with Rufus finally finding it within himself to reach out and connect with his audience, in true Garland style. A guest appearance from Lorna Luft, the late diva’s daughter, gives the final seal of approval to his efforts.