Album review: Rufus Wainwright's Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 3:30pm

Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall

(Geffen Records)

Although he was surrounded by the folk-tinged sounds of his parents - singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle - apparently the young Rufus only showed an interest in music when mum sat behind their piano and played selections from the songbooks of Gershwin and Porter.

After years of experimentation Wainwright has most recently found his feet in the world of majestic 'popera', as heard on this year's superb Release the Stars.

But he has apparently always wanted to pay tribute to the sounds that started him off - and to a night that remains etched in family folklore - when mum and dad were in the crowd one hallowed evening in 1961 when Judy Garland wowed New York's Carnegie Hall.

Wainwright gathers a 36-piece orchestra and the same song list Garland used that night and the result is a triumph for enthusiasm.

While there is the odd occasion where you might tire of the self-indulgence involved in the project (particularly in some of his strained stage banter) - and a few songs where his voice doesn't quite scale the heights - for the most part Wainwright lives up to the legend.

And there are moments of unbridled joy - his renditions of You Go to My Head, San Francisco and a sprawling Over the Rainbow (joined on stage by his mum) bring the house down, while his Puttin' on the Ritz successfully steals the song back from Mel Brooks and his monster.

Break out the feather boa and kick up your heels.