Rufus Wainwright performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms this week, paying tribute to Jeff Buckley and duetting with Jake Shears while performing their classic albums “Want One” and “Want Two” in their entirety .
Joining the BBC Concert Orchestra on Tuesday (September 5) for two separate performances to mark the 20th anniversary of their 2003 third album ‘Want One’ and its 2004 sister album ‘Want Two’, the night was as Witness the opulent, a comprehensive and interesting presentation of Wainwright’s most essential work.
Towards the end of the second half of “Want Two”, Wainwright invited Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears on stage to perform “Old Whore’s Diet”, saying that they used to hang out together.
“I have to tell you a little story about the two of us, many years ago,” Wainwright began.
“We went to a concert – Ween in Philadelphia. We hooked up in the car, it was beautiful. ‘Want One’ was coming out at the time and I had just finished it. Jake played the latest demos of The Scissor Sisters ‘ for me. the first album. He was listening to it and I was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing, this is an amazing album.’ Then I had an old man’s talk with him when I said, ‘Well, it’s great, but don’t be disappointed if nothing happens…’ .
Shears continued, “He told me, ‘Be prepared, this might not work.’ I appreciated that.”
“I can’t believe we’re ever singing together.”
Other highlights of both performances included rousing renditions of “Art Teacher,” “Go Or Go Ahead,” “Oh What A World,” “14th Street,” and Wainwright’s dedication of “Memphis Skyline” to the late Jeff Buckley.
“It’s a lot of people’s show tonight, it’s my show and the orchestra’s show and everybody’s, but it’s really exciting because we have the incredible Matt Johnson on drums,” Wainwright said during the second set. “He played on a lot of these songs first, and some of them he hadn’t sung in a while.”
Introducing ‘Memphis Skyline’, he later said: “Matt and I started years ago at the same time, although he had success before because he played with the great Jeff Buckley on his album. I met him once and we spent a wonderful evening.
“Fortunately, before I did my version of ‘Hallelujah’ for Shrek, I had never heard his version. So I listened to a lot of musicals and not much else. I did Shrek’s version of ‘Hallelujah,’ well, and finally one day I had a chance to sit down and listen to Jeff’s version, I was totally excited, speechless and a little jealous. I started writing the next song, called ‘Memphis Skyline’ , so this is for Jeff and all of them elsewhere.”
See more images below, and listen to the ‘Want One’ symphony in full on BBC Sounds here , and the ‘Want Two’ show here.
Wainwright’s latest album, “Folkocracy,” is out now, as is Shears’ second solo album, “Last Man Dancing.” The Scissor Sisters front man will be on stage with Self Esteem in a new production of Cabaret in London.
Meanwhile, a biopic of Buckley’s life titled Everybody Here Wants You is also in the works, which the late icon’s mother has described as “the only official dramatization of Jeff’s story.”