Rufus Wainwright
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

IN a set that covered the gamut of his career as a singer-songwriter, one of the newest works Rufus Wainwright performed was a very personal ode to husband Jorn Weisbrodt, entitled Peaceful Afternoon and destined to appear on his next album. A lovely, honest, heartfelt song, in style and structure it could as easily have been written by his father Loudon Wainwright III – an observation that might once have irritated Wainwright Junior, but I would guess he is more relaxed about now.

That new album is just one agenda item on what he described as “the full plate of Rufusness” upcoming, including the premiere of his second opera, Hadrian, in Toronto in three months’ time, and a tour with a full band marking the 30th anniversary of his debut album, which will come to Glasgow in the spring. Judging by the welcome accorded that news, many from Glasgow had come to this show, which was, in its style and structure, as close as anyone is likely to hear now to his Scottish debut, at the original Belle Angele venue destroyed by the Cowgate fire.

For all his varied compositional work, Rufus Wainwright’s songcraft has stuck closely to his extended family roots, a network that includes Leonard Cohen, whose daughter Lorca is the mother of Rufus’s daughter, and whose So Long Marianne and Hallelujah were the non-original inclusions here. With the passing of his friend Jeff Buckley (also honoured here) and its composer, many would say that Wainwright is now the de facto owner of that last song, regardless of its countless other cover versions.

With an odd excursion into performance art for an anti-Trump rap, a very funny story about previous performances of Gay Messiah and a heartfelt I’m So Tired of America, this was a very personal solo show, for which a devoted crowd was more than prepared to overlook the glaring technical mistakes on both piano and guitar early on. Wainwright is about so much more than musical perfection.