Loudon Wainwright Live in York

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EVENT: Loudon Wainwright

VENUE: York Grand Opera House

REVIEW BY: Jack Slade

At the ripe old age of 64, Loudon Wainwright III sings about the inevitable with a morbid sense of humour that takes the edge off the touchy subject of death.

His youngest daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche, opened the night with a brief and pleasing set. She was followed, fittingly, by her father and the song ‘Being a Dad’.

Early on he established something of a theme: “I have a lot of songs about death and decay tonight.”

Staring his mortality right in the eye, Loudon lauded his own achievement of “being older than my dad ever was” and starkly confessed “I’m guilty of outliving my ex.”

Ever since the release of his first studio album in 1970, 20 more albums have been born of the mind of one of the wittiest musicians there has ever been.

Looking around me in the Grand Opera House, I had never seen such consistent amusement on the faces of an audience. Loudon certainly knows how to make a face too. His outrageous expressions and ironic dad dancing make him more than just a musician, but a real entertainer too.

Wainwright is perfectly understated, and can go from the heartfelt and poignant to the hilarious and daft in seconds.

What you expect, or what at least I expect, is a touring musician to plug their new music.

In Loudon’s case, 10 Songs For The New Depression is his most recent work. It was refreshing to see him not play a single track off the record.

His cult status means plugging isn’t necessary when you have the consistent and committed fan base he does.

Towards the end of the gig he invited the audience to shout out names of songs they would like him to play. This was met by a non synchronous chorus of song titles that could have gone on for hours due to the expanse of his catalogue.

A truly prolific songwriter who was met with rapturous applause as he left the stage, only to sing ‘Shut up and go to bed’ for the encore.