Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Loudon Wainwright at the Sage, Gateshead - review by Terry Kelly

Loudon and daughter, Lucy Wainwright-Roche, who supported him at the Sage

JOKES about the lately deceased Osama bin Laden are not the norm for concerts at The Sage.

But very little seems out of bounds for US singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III.

A bard of familial tensions, death, sex and other fairly important topics, Wainwright punctures the serious stuff with a wicked and finely honed sense of humour.

Opening with Westchester County - one of several hymns to his well-heeled childhood - Wainwright took his Tyneside audience on a musical journey which began with his first album, way back in 1970.

Many of the songs featured live are collected in a handsome new box set, called 40 Odd Years, which Wainwright happily signed after the gig.

Although famous for his dark subject matter, Wainwright is careful to lighten the mood with songs like I'm Alright (which he calls his "happy blues"), and Heaven, about an endless party in the afterlife.

But Wainwright can switch to seriousness in an instant, treating the audience to the haunting Dead Man, an elegy about trying on his late father's clothes.

Now in his mid-60s, the ageing process is continuing to feed Wainwright's muse (My Meds), but Wainwright somehow leaves his fans smiling at the Grim Reaper.

Ably supported on several numbers by his daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche, one of America's greatest exports served up his only real chart hit, Dead Skunk, before raising the roof with a rousing encore of The Swimming Song.

Terry Kelly


  1. I rang Loudon Wainwright this morning. He appears to be suffering from a condition whereby he can't finish his sentences. At least I think that's what it is: he told me Rufus is a tit.

  2. The man was at his gurning best - something in his grin reminded me of Stan Laurel.