Release Date: Sep 22, 2009
Record label: Decca
Genre(s): Rock, Pop, Live
Milwaukee at Last!!! captures singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright performing live in Wisconsin at the Pabst Theater on August 27, 2007. Recorded while on tour in support of his 2007 studio effort, Release the Stars, Milwaukee at Last!!! finds Wainwright drawing heavily from that album, along with a few inclusions from 2003's Want Two and 2007's Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall. In that sense, Milwaukee is reminiscent of the opera-esque aspirations of Release the Stars, as Wainwright includes the best material off that album and delivers the songs in a timely, dramatic fashion that makes for a well-paced listen.
There are a myriad of different types of live albums in the music industry, many of them easily differentiated by the reason for their release: some for shamelessly commercial goals, some that are more artistic in pursuit. Given our dear Rufus Wainwright’s tendency for unabashed vanity, it would be forgivable for fans to fear one of the former releases, glitzed up hastily by his label and shipped around to rake in a few more dollars during a period where Wainwright seems to be concentrating on endeavors other than his pop music career. Thankfully, and to our pleasant surprise, Milwaukee at Last!!! falls neatly into the latter category, a live record that serves to illustrate the strengths of Wainwright’s last release from 2007, Release the Stars.
Milwaukee at Last!!! is Rufus Wainwright's second live album, but it might as well be his first. In 2007, Rufus Does Judy Live at Carnegie Hall documented his song-for-song and nearly banter-for-banter restaging of Judy Garland's infamous 1961 performance, and Wainwright's slavish devotion to her performance made it an act of impersonation rather than interpretation. He was living his own dream of pop stardom; it was an odd affair, since his primary audience ultimately was himself.
The popular image of Mr Wainwright is of a petulant, opera-loving egotist. The type of guy who’d blast into a funeral, screeching “Where are the garlands dedicated to me?” as the congregation attempt to sing ‘Ave Maria’ over the coffin. [b]‘Milwaukee At Last!!!’[/b], however, attempts to subtly re-shift the focus away from him and onto his songs.