35. Rufus Wainwright – Poses

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I can’t actually remember when it was that I first heard him, but I can remember trekking to the Royal Festival Hall in London to see him do one of a spattering on UK shows in September 2004. We had amazing seats – my eyes pretty much directly in front of and directly in line with Rufus himself. Keane were there for the ride, ruddy-faced hay-muncher, Tom Chaplin was stood mere inches from us at one point as he checked his mobile before going back in. He must have been really excited about the concert as he’d gone all red. Oh, wait.

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Rufus was in spellbinding form and, from that day, the love affair was truly on. I’d already picked up ‘Want One’ and this album, ‘Poses’, prior to attending the gig but they were played solidly for weeks afterwards, so in thrall was I to this natural performer, gifted entertainer and passionate performer. I’m well aware that many people don’t see the appeal, saying he slurs his words, neglects his melodies and is unbearably smug. On occasion, I’ll grant them the last one, but I even find that endearing. Rufus and his band finished their performance at the Royal Festival Hall that night in full witches costumes, pointy hats and all, swaying around to ‘Oh What A World’ and it was bloody marvellous. I left absolutely beaming and had his songs bouncing round my heard for the duration of the three hour coach ride home.

For a while, ‘Poses’ was my favourite Rufus album and, had I compiled this a year or so ago, it may have appeared higher in the list. Having said that, it’s a beautiful collection of musical endeavour. ‘Greek Song’ and ‘Poses’ are charmingly complex, while ‘One Many Guy’ is a startlingly great cover of one of his father’s songs. ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk’ is the big pop moment and is ludicrously catchy, not unlike ‘California’, a distant cousin of Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case Of You’. However, ‘Rebel Prince’ just edges the rest of them. It’s a swooning, sensual performance of a masterfully constructed tune and it even has the dubious honour of having been covered by The Beautiful South.

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