Rufus Wainwright returns to Milwaukee (at last!)

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Rufus Wainwright performs on Aug. 10 at the Pabst Theater.

Out singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright digs Milwaukee so much, he not only recorded his 2009 live CD/DVD set at the Pabst Theater in August 2007, he titled it “Milwaukee At Last!!!”

The son of music marvels Loudon Wainwright III and the late Kate McGarrigle, Wainwright has been a musical presence since childhood. He stepped out on his own in 1998 with his highly regarded eponymous debut disc, and he’s been delighting his devoted following ever since.

In addition to his live performances and albums, marked by rolling piano melodies and poignant lyrics, Wainwright is renowned for his movie soundtracks. His renditions of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” used in “Shrek,” and the Beatles’ “Across the Universe,” heard on the “I Am Sam” soundtrack, are legendary.

In fact, Wainwright’s talent and creativity go far beyond being merely an acclaimed musician, songwriter, and singer. In 2007, he did a live, spot-on recreation of Judy Garland’s famous 1961 concert live and recorded it for the CD  “Rufus does Judy at Carnegie Hall.”

Wainwright’s latest recording is the soulful  “Out of the Game,” which Rolling Stone has lauded as one of the best albums of 2012. The album has already charted in 13 countries and reached the Top 10 in Denmark and the U.K.

“Game” is a distinct contrast to his prior release, 2010’s soul-baring and mournful “All Days are Nights: Songs for Lulu,” and it finds Wainwright at the top his game. His sense of humor is on exhibit throughout, beginning with the title track’s dishy observations about the behavior of younger gay men (he’s 39). The track “Rashida” effortlessly updates vintage soul, Rufus-style, complete with wailing diva back-up vocals. The retro R&B vibe continues on the sexy “Barbara,” the swirling “Bitter Tears” and especially with the full-on funk of “Perfect Man,” which deserves to be remixed for club play.

To producer Mark Ronson’s credit, Wainwright doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. On the contrary, he’s the central focus throughout the disc. Playing less piano and more guitar than usual, the Rufus we have all come to know and love can be heard loud and clear on “Welcome to the Ball,” “Respectable Dive,” “Sometimes You Need” and the amazing and utterly gay “Montauk.”

Milwaukee audiences will be treated to Wainwright’s latest as well as his older work when he takes the stage at The Pabst once more on Aug. 10. Go to www.pabsttheater.org/show/rufuswainwright to learn more and to buy tickets.

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