Judy Garland | Music | New York | Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright as Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall


Rufus Wainwright performed his recreation of Judy Garland's 1961 preformance at Carnegie Hall last night. The reviews are coming in, and they are, for the most part, glowing.

Rufus_judy_1Roger Bourland at Red Black Window posts part one of a two part review (photo by Daniel Shiplacoff), and notes that both the Wainwright and Garland groupies were spoonfed exactly what they wanted:

"The median age of the audience was probably 45. Was this because of the material? or is Rufus’s audience primarilly baby boomers? or were these the people who could afford it? I personally missed the edge of a younger audience. (But if I stop and think about it, Rufus seems to always enchant his listeners, they all look as thought they are in a daze when they listen. There is never a kind of headbangers ball scene at a Rufus Wainwright concert.) I saw Laurie Anderson, Jon Waters [sic], David Bowie, Antony, Joel Gray, and many other familiar faces. Lots of 45 to 60 well-off gay men. Many clusters of women, and surprising number of straight couples (that is for a concert by such a queer as RW). The audience offered up 4 or 5 standing ovations in the course of the evening. I’m certain that if overtime didn’t kick in for the orchestra and stage personnel, there would have been many more encores: the audience roar said as much."

The New York Times seems to agree:

"What unfolded onstage was a tour de force of politically empowering performance art in which a proudly gay male performer paid homage to the original and longest-running gay icon in the crowded pantheon of pop divas...For those who came to worship, Mr. Wainwright could do no wrong. His courage to stand as a surrogate for every audience member who ever gazed into the mirror and fantasized slipping into Dorothy's ruby slippers spoke for itself."

Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Conjuring Judy Garland [nyt]
Wainwright does Garland in Carnegie Hall (part 1) [red black window]
Historic Judy Garland concert restaged in New York [reuters]

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  1. why weren't more young people there?

    1. who's judy garland?
    2. young people don't like whining

    Posted by: Dave | Jun 15, 2006 9:06:43 AM

  2. It's always been a mystery to me how people enjoy his music so. I find his voice grating, and yes, whiny.

    Posted by: Patrick | Jun 15, 2006 9:25:43 AM

  3. How silly!

    What's next?
    Ellen doing Sinatra at the Sands?

    Posted by: Arnie H> | Jun 15, 2006 9:28:44 AM

  4. I am glad it was such a success- I am sure that there will be many negative postings on this today - Hi Dave. Young people don't like whining? Who are you kidding no group whines more. Not knowing who Judy Garland is says more about you than it does about the people who do. It goes into understanding the importance of history and culture. The fact that this concert happened at all 35 years after her death is testament to who Judy Garland was and influence on 2 more generations of artists.

    Posted by: Donald | Jun 15, 2006 9:30:00 AM

  5. Like Tom Waits' voice, Rufus' instrument is something that either grows on you or doesn't. He is, however, a brilliant songwriter and composer. And how many openly gay pop singers are there anyways? I think he rocks and deserves all the accolades he gets. I may not like his voice all the time, but he gets my undying worship nonetheless.

    Posted by: Gabriel | Jun 15, 2006 9:36:06 AM

  6. During the winter of 2002 my upstairs neighbor (while living above the late "18th & 8th" restaurant in Chelsea) broke up with his girlfriend and would drown his sorrow each night by plugging in his guitar and strumming and singing along to Rufus's "Around the Universe". Over and over, he would wail it. And the more wine, the more whine. It was awful. There I was living in the center of the gay universe and I just could not figure out this straight guy wailing his guts out to a queen who sounds like a basset hound in heat. Thats the real reason they knocked the building down, no one could stand that freakin' song.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jun 15, 2006 9:43:37 AM

  7. I agree with Dave...who's Judy Garland?

    Posted by: Michael W. | Jun 15, 2006 10:09:18 AM

  8. RE:

    "What's next?
    Ellen doing Sinatra at the Sands?"

    How about Melissa doing Neil Diamond at the Tropicana?
    Oh wait, that's basically Melissa in a nutshell anyway.

    Posted by: 24play | Jun 15, 2006 10:21:53 AM

  9. Who's Dave?....

    I am in my 20's and was there last night. If you don't know Garland, then you are retarded-- and by "retarded" I mean not gay or cultured.

    Posted by: Steve | Jun 15, 2006 10:24:05 AM

  10. I am not familiar with Mr. Wainwright, but I am quite familiar with one of the greatest performers/personalities in the history of entertainment. Thanks for your comment, Donald.
    If young gay folks don't want to know about why we idolized icons such as Judy Garland, and what life was like before Stonewall, then so be it. If they have no respect for what came before them, then let them enjoy the most important icon of their generation: the AIDS virus. Oh, that was mean, wasn't it?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jun 15, 2006 10:24:13 AM

  11. Who's Judy Garland?!?!? She's only the woman who turned that song you hear closing the pier dance at Pride every year under the fireworks a gay anthem. Not to mention the fact of her death sparked the Gay Rights Movement that allows you to have the voice you have today.

    This year when you are standing there on the Hudson River proud and public and Somewhere Over The Rainbow starts playing and you are holding your boyfriend or trick's hand without having to worry about being arrested for it, remember her and what she did for you.

    Posted by: MT | Jun 15, 2006 10:26:24 AM

  12. Amen to that MT. Garland will live forever, while togays so called gay icons will flicker away...

    Posted by: KEN | Jun 15, 2006 10:31:32 AM

  13. And any queer from 5 and up has seen the WIZARD OF OZ and knows who Judy is! You young'uns like to rile us up by faking denial. Shame on you!

    Posted by: KEN | Jun 15, 2006 10:35:20 AM

  14. What's a pier dance?

    Posted by: 24play | Jun 15, 2006 10:36:37 AM

  15. Awww...now I regret selling my tickets on eBay. I did make a shit load of cash, however. This was definitely a hot ticket!

    Posted by: Damien Tilden | Jun 15, 2006 10:48:52 AM

  16. I would expect queens and marys to know from sarcasm. Gimme a break! Dave was KIDDING.

    "The fact that this concert happened at all 35 years after her death is testament to who Judy Garland was and influence on 2 more generations of artists."

    No one is knocking her and you exaggerate. It's just a concert. For the record, I love Judy, and if I were her I'd be rolling in my grave. He's tarnishing her memory.

    "I may not like his voice all the time, but he gets my undying worship nonetheless."

    That is just sick.

    Posted by: Patrick | Jun 15, 2006 11:06:15 AM

  17. OK. I get it. Stephen Holden is either a Tina Queen or wants to suck off Rufus or both. Let's focus on other parts of his review, where the ugly truth could not help but seep through:

    "Mr. Wainwright sounds nothing like Garland..his voice... an astringent drone with a quavering edge, uncertain intonation and slightly garbled diction, isn't half as good an instrument as Garland's. ...[it was] a fabulous stunt. Not even Madonna, pop music's ultimate pop provocateur, has attempted anything so ambitious. ....the original 1961 arrangements [were] transposed several notes lower to suit his voice. ... [he]
    doesn't begin to convey emotional extremes Garland embodied like a great method actress...For those who came to worship, Mr. Wainwright could do no wrong."

    I don't know who the fuck Roger Bourland is, but the very fact that he can't correctly spell the names of some of those in the audience [JOHN Waters; Joel GREY] whose presence he thought underscored his own opinion [yeah, sure, John Waters, that famous music critic; when did Baltimore get a branch of Julliard?] speaks for itself. And another thing is obvious, he'll cut Holden's throat if he tries to get to Wainwright's limpid dick first.

    This story would have fit perfectly with the one below about the two rich fags in LA LA Land who have unveiled the marble mausoleum they've built to house their oh so divine remains. Some queens jerk off on stage to a paying audience and others arrange to do it in perpetuity, even after death, by a lovely pond in a cemetery. Can we find a cure for AIDS now?

    Well, if Wainwright is to Judy impersonators what Bush is to Presidents, at least we can be thankful Rufus doesn't have an entire army at his disposal, even if he did pull off [pun intended] a 21-gun salute to his similarly shameless and bottomless ego last night. Now where's that CD of Aretha annihilating "Nessum Dorma" that I was using as a coaster?

    Posted by: Leland | Jun 15, 2006 11:32:30 AM

  18. Goofus killed Jeff Buckley. It's true!

    Posted by: jjabely | Jun 15, 2006 11:40:58 AM

  19. LeLand, sweetie, you must have forgotten your Ritalin Silver this morning. Kisses...

    Posted by: Criixi VanCheek | Jun 15, 2006 11:43:11 AM

  20. But what did YOU think of the concert, Leland?

    To have such a strong opinion, I assume you must have been in attendance.

    Unless of course you're adopting the tactics of the religious right, loudly (and mindlessly) condemning films, music, books they haven't even deigned to see/hear/read...

    But I can forgive you, hon. You obviously feel as strongly about La Garland as so many kids today do about Ashlee and Paris. And we wouldn't want actual critical skills to get in the way of that.

    Posted by: 24play | Jun 15, 2006 11:57:50 AM

  21. Methinks Leland has forgotten his Xanax AND Ativan this morning...

    Posted by: honey child | Jun 15, 2006 11:59:32 AM

  22. Leland is my favorite part of Towleroad. I'd pay good money to see him starring in his own reality series on VH1 or E!.

    Posted by: Steve | Jun 15, 2006 12:25:33 PM

  23. I think Leland needs a full time job or a hobby. I love you Andy!!

    Posted by: Please | Jun 15, 2006 12:34:21 PM

  24. "Well, if Wainwright is to Judy impersonators what Bush is to Presidents, at least we can be thankful Rufus doesn't have an entire army at his disposal..."


    Someone tell this old queen to turn over her broken 78.

    Posted by: Tom | Jun 15, 2006 12:42:54 PM

  25. Judy Garland is important to gay culture. I get it. Her post-Wizard of Oz musical career is not really my taste, but that's neither here not there. I guess I'm too unsophisticated. Or young. Or something.

    But honestly, how is this concert anything more than big-budget karaoke?

    Posted by: Christian | Jun 15, 2006 1:18:38 PM

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