October 1, 2005
R e i tSi
By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Editor
Rufus Wainwright is proof that talent tran-
scends sociopolitical boundaries. Twenty years
ago, it would have been rare
for an openly gay musician
or entertainer to fill a, con- Rufus
cert hall; it would have been Wainwright
unheard of for a large portion The Michigan Theater
of that entertainer's audience
to be teenage girls and suc-
cessful, over-30 yuppie couples who have chil-
dren. But those are some the people who flocked
to the Michigan Theater in droves on Sunday
night to see the classically trained singer/song-
writer perform a rare solo show without the back-
ing band that usually accompanies him on tour.
The evening's only shortfall was the opening
act, a shaky acoustic performance by Khalid
Hanifi of Ann Arbor-based group the Maypops.
After a short, palate-cleansing break, Wainwright
- dressed casually in an open-necked flowered
shirt, gray tuxedo pants, a glittery green cravat
and what appeared to be Teva sandals - finally
took the stage to the audience's deafening cheers.
"I'm all nervous!" Wainwright laughed as he sat
down at the piano. He apologized for the foot-
ball team's loss to Minnesota the day before and
launched into "Grey Gardens" from his sopho-
more album, Poses.
If you've never heard one of Wainwright's live
performances, you're missing out: Impossibly,
his voice sounds fuller, more liquid, more beau-
tiful in person than on his carefully engineered
recordings. Add to this the fact that Wainwright
accompanies himself immaculately on piano and
guitar, and his concerts are more like experienc-
THE HOTTEST PICKS IN ENTERTAINMENT
FROM A DAILY ARTS WRITER
The Gorillaz 'Dare' Video - Damon Albarn may just want to hang out
in the spotlight a little longer in his post-Blur incarnation with the Gorillaz,
but I don't care. "Dare" is an awesome jam, as is all of Demon Days, and
the video has a weirdly erotic animated character named "Noodle" dancing
in it. Throw in some 360-degree camera turns, sparkling lights and Happy
Mondays singer Shaun Ryder's giant head and I'm sold.
'One Way, It's Every Way' - This CD has been on repeat for a while
at my place. Released last month, it's 10 tracks of experimental post-rock
bliss. Clue to Kalo is sexy, poppy electronica that's great for relaxing,
thinking and writing for me.
'Killing Yourself to Live' - I'm not finished with this book yet,
but I can't put it down. The senior writer at Spin magazine drives
across the country touring famous rock star death sites in his fol-
low-up to the fantastic Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, and. waxes
poetic about rock in general along the way. Klosterman can be
irritating, pompous and irrational, but he's always entertaining.
Dane Cook - He's everywhere, and no matter how reluctant you are to
laugh at him, you should. He's hysterical live, and I can't get enough of
him. I'm glad he's finally getting some real recognition. From "I CAN'T
HEAR YOU BK BROILER!" to "I will punch every bee in the face ..."
he's consistently hysterical.
Canadian singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright performed selections from each of his albums dur-
ing his one-man show at the Michigan Theater on Sunday night.
ing a classical virtuoso's performance than a pop
singer's. Before segueing into "Damned Ladies,"
Wainwright contextualizes the song with an
anecdote about opening for the New York City
Opera, where he met a group of "wonderfully
large people." After that, Wainwright concluded
the evening's first stint at the piano with "Beauty
Mark" from his self-created debut and dedicated
"Pretty Things," one of the quieter tracks from
2003's theatrical Want One, to college students,
who look like "dolls that you want to dress up."
Although absence of Wainwright's backing
band meant that many of the expansive orches-
tral tracks on Want One could not be performed,
hearing Wainwright's multifaceted musicianship
in such an intimate setting more than made up for
this. Wainwright presents himself onstage with
the impeccable skill and an honesty of a sea-
soned classical performer, thanks to, no doubt,
his training as an operatic singer. But his cabaret
artist-cum-opera diva persona allows him to take
on a poppier, swaggering tone, especially when
he's behind the guitar. He performed a cool, soul-
ful version of 2004 album Want Two's "Under the
Peach Tree," and then the sunny, upbeat "Cali-
fornia" and "In My Arms" before going back to
Throughout the evening, Wainwright per-
sonalized his set list with anecdotes and often
dedicated songs; the twinkly, Mozart-esque "Lit-
tle Sister" was for the women in the audience.
whom Wainwright also asked to sing his sister
Martha's part on "April Fool's" after going back
to his guitar. One highlight of the evening was
one of Wainwright's overtly sexual songs, "Gay
Messiah," which he introduced with a reminder
that, in most of the world, homosexuality is still
a capital crime.
After "The Art Teacher," Wainwright intro-
duced a new song, which was only one day old,
called "Low-Grade Happiness." Perhaps because
of the vulnerability he felt practicing a new piece
in front of the audience, Wainwright segued
without pause into one of the songs that made
him (and Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley and
countless others) famous, "Hallelujah," to close
the show. But the-audience wasn't done with him
yet: Their cheers brought Wainwright out for two
encores, during which he performed "Cigarettes
and Chocolate Milk," "11:11" and one of his
songs in French.
Even if Rufus Wainwright isn't the gay messi-
ah, Sunday night's performance proved that he's
not only won the hearts of mainstream listeners:
He's redefining what the singer/songwriter can
do in contemporary music.
Vanity Fair Music Issue -
The sixth annual music
issue of a magazine
that's usually about
and politics, the
Vanity Fair is text-
book thick. It has
a huge feature on
hip hop with pho-
tos by Mark Seli-
ger, the top-25
road trip albums
and more. Music,
celebrities and good
Courtesy of Dane Cook
WE'RE THERAPISTS AND ANALYSTS. ANALRAPISTS, IF YOU WILL.
'Close to Home' shows career mom
By Ben Megargel
For the Daily
f~I r~ I
One of the few unexplored focuses for
a TV crime drama is
one that Dick Wolf's
"Law & Order" fran- Close to
chise hasn't really Home
touched on: the law- Tuesdays at
yer mom. In the 10 p.m.
Jerry Bruckheimer- CBS
produced "Close To
Home," a fresh concept and excellent
production make up for tired writing and
The series stars Jennifer Finnigan
("Student Bodies") as Annabeth Chase,
a young mother returning to her job as
a prosecutor after a three-month mater-
nity leave. Chase is conflicted not only
between her work and child, but also pres-
sures from her new job. Kimberly Elise
("Diary of a Mad Black Woman") plays
Chase's tough, no-nonsense boss, creat-
ing a workplace battle between emotional
and dispassionate characters. The cast is
filled out by John Carroll Lynch ("Fargo")
as the prosecutors' team leader and Chris-
tian Kane ("Angel") as Chase's supportive
The debut episode opens beautifully
with slow-motion shots of a scenic sub-
urban street suddenly interrupted by a
violent house fire. A mother and her two
children are saved by firefighters from
their basement window. Immediately
visually engaging, "Close to Home" does
an excellent job of drawing in the viewer.
As the episode continues, the production
proves to be top-notch and fast-paced
while still believable in relation to the
frenzied nature a working mother's life.
However, some of the actors' perfor-
mances and casting decisions feel strained
or contrived. Finnigan, a relatively
unknown actress, looks as if she has barely
received her bachelor's degree - hardly a
new mother returning to an established
career. In addition, she appears perfectly
rested and put-together throughout the
entire show, her sleek blonde hair pulled
professionally in a smart, low ponytail. It
is hard to imagine her being up all night
with her new baby and busy all day pros-
ecuting while maintaining bag-less eyes.
In addition, the friction between Finni-
gan and Elise appears heavily contrived by
the writers to create some catfights. The
dialogue the two actresses share sounds
disingenuous, as if the two are, in reality,
friends just pretending to fight.
The show's writing is anything but
complicated. The pilot follows the
standard path of law dramas in which
the wrong person is initially arrested
and justice is eventually done in a
Less graphic than "C.S.I" and more
intimate than "Law & Order," "Close to
Home" is an accessible offering that will
most likely appeal to a wide audience.
And for the righteous new mother/laywer
market? This show has that covered.
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