Rufus Wainwright will be among the stars to take the stage this Sunday, October 4th, at New York's Carnegie Hall for the (RED) concert "Hal Willner presents: An Evening with Gavin Friday and Friends." Other "friends" slated to perform include all of the members of U2, Laurie Anderson, Shane McGowan, Lydia Lunch, Antony and Scarlett Johansson, who will duet with Wainwright on the Gavin Friday song "Mr. Pussy." Rehearsing together for the first time earlier this week, Wainwright tells Rolling Stone he was blown away by ScarJo's star quality. "She's very together, in so many ways. It's all held so well together as well," Wainwright said.
Wainwright's encounter with Johansson wasn't the only highlight of the rehearsals. "All of a sudden, Courtney Love popped in, who immediately had to barge into my rehearsal because she was on her way to Vegas to sing with Slash," Wainwright said. "So when that train comes into the station, you better get out of the way. I saw her do her thing, and she's definitely still the Queen of Rock & Roll in my opinion."
The concert also reunites many of the principal artists — like Bono, Laurie Anderson and Antony — involved in the Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man film, another tribute concert presented by Willner. Tickets for "An Evening with Gavin Friday and Friends" are still available at the Carnegie Hall Website, and be sure to check back Monday for David Fricke's recap of the concert.
This week also saw the release of Wainwright's live CD/DVD Milwaukee At Last!!!, recorded at the Wisconsin city's famed Pabst Theater in August 27th, 2007. The concert allowed Wainwright the opportunity to work with one of his heroes, filmmaker Albert Maysles, one-half of the documentary team responsible for Salesman and rock classics like Gimme Shelter. "I have been a fan of his since I've seen Grey Gardens," Wainwright says of Maysles. "I happened to be touring with Sean Lennon, Sean was opening for me on tour and Albert was following him around, and we immediately hit it off, and I felt like this was a real opportunity to live out one of my fantasies."
As for why they chose Milwaukee, Wainwright says the Pabst Theater provided the perfect environment for the concert, which features songs from his Release the Stars and Want One albums as well as his "Rufus Sings Judy" show. "The theater itself is very beautiful, it's a real jewel of the stage, it was built in the 19th century and, at the time, they were trying to inject the Midwest with some European sophistication, and it stuck," Wainwright said. "One of the pluses in filming something in Milwaukee is that people out there don't often get a chance to be in the movies, so when it strikes they really go for it, like the performance of 'Between My Legs' is really hilarious. We brought some people from the audience and they did not disappoint in their attempts to be ridiculous."
Even though Milwaukee At Last!!! was just released and his autumn is packed with concerts, Wainwright already has his eye on his next album, an album that will allow the singer to catch his breath a bit. "It's a solo piano voice record. Just me and the piano, that's it. It's sort of a little break from all these intense operas and Judy Garland shows and rock concerts and stuff," Wainwright says. "I just want to bring it down a moment until my next universal blast-off."