Wednesday, 10 October 2007

27 June 2007 – Rufus Wainwright, Leas Cliffs Hall, Folkestone

(Above, Rufus morphing into Loudon?)

This time it’s not so much the show, it’s more to do with the venue. Leas Cliffs Hall is a hidden gem – one of the best-kept secrets on the concert circuit. It must have started life as a regular seaside ballroom. Now it makes for a wonderfully intimate venue for any sort of act with spot-on acoustics. The hall literally perches on the side of a sheer cliff – the entrance is via a small structure at street level, then you descent two flights of stairs to a small but perfectly-formed, wooden-floored hall. The stage was set along one of the long walls with a wide standing area in front and some seating in a small gallery opposite. Bars in ante-rooms at either end completed a perfect set up. Tip – if a band you’re interested in is to play Folkestone, don’t hesitate, pick up the phone or mouse and book – you won’t regret it. My spies tell me the likes of Motorhead play there, even if it means you’re deaf for a week afterwards.

Rufus and band were clearly taken with the place too – lots of quips about it being like playing at a Barmitzva, or “you kinda expect the floor to open up and there’s a swimming pool”. His Rufusness had spent the afternoon “sitting in my room looking at the ocean while listening to opera and playing with my jewels with the door locked.” Ouch – that’s not (quite) as bad as it sounds – fans have been sending in brooches so that Rufus has enough to deck out his whole band. Just picture this – before each show he sits before the huge jewellery box and doles out items as he sees fit .. and collects them all in at the end of the show. Sometime, if they’ve been good, they get to keep one. Yes, I know, mind-boggling isn’t it.

As for the show – because the songs and the band had settled in so well, and because of the very special venue – this really was a wonderful evening. With the stage so close it was possible for Rufus to interact with the audience properly – he could see we were having a rocking time, so that fed back into the performance. For the spoken section of ‘Between My Legs’ Rufus could see several of us evidently knew the words so he decided on the spot to “let you guys” do the piece – nice idea, but we weren’t miked up. Top marks for the thought, though. Yes, I have lost my critical faculties over this one – but many agree that this was a rather special evening. It almost makes you afraid to go to another show for fear of spoiling the memory. (Well, not for too long.) I’d be hard-pressed to pick out the best moment, but I think ‘Macushla’ did it again. Rufus, honey, you were perfect.

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