“Candles” is the closing song on Rufus Wainwright’s acclaimed new album, Out of the Game, but it was the perfect opener at his performance at the magnificent Church of the Ascension, on Manhattan’s lower Fifth Avenue. The historic church was a breathtaking backdrop for the gorgeous tale of searching for a place to light a memorial for his late mother, singer Kate McGarrigle. Resplendent in tails and gold sequined pants, Wainwright paid additional tribute to McGarrigle during the 22-song set with an emotional, solo rendition of her “On My Way to Town” before bringing out super-producer Mark Ronson, who helmed the new album, and closing the evening with the rousing, disco-flavored “Bitter Tears.”
Music is literally in Rufus Wainwright’s blood. Born to folk singers Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, he is also the brother of singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright. At the age of 6, Wainwright began studying piano, and by the age of 13, he was already on tour with his family. In 1998, Wainwright’s eponymous debut was released to critical acclaim, earning him the title “Best New Artist” from Rolling Stone magazine. On May 1, 2012, Wainwright released his seventh studio album, the poppier, more danceable Out of the Game. Produced by Mark Ronson, the album has charted in 13 counties, including Top 10 positions in Denmark and the United Kingdom.
The Church of the Ascension in New York’s Greenwich Village was originally founded in 1827. The current, Gothic Revival building was consecrated in 1841 and designed by Richard Upjohn, making it the first church on Fifth Avenue. The church interior was remodeled in the 1880s under the supervision of noted architecture firm McKim, Mead, and White to include sculptured angels, mosaics, and a gorgeous, central mural and stained glass windows by John Lafarge. The church building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.