Music Article

Wish You Were There?

The high concept concerts of summer 2006 -- We judge the latest shows by Rufus Wainwright, Jay-Z, and Roger Waters

The high concept concerts of summer 2006

JAY-Z
June 25, 2006
Radio City Music Hall, NYC

ROGER WATERS
June 16, 2006
Olympic Stadium, Rome

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
June 16, 2006
Carnegie Hall, NYC

OCCASION

JAY-Z
The semiretired rapper's one-night-only, 10th-anniversary celebration of his debut album, Reasonable Doubt (released June 25, 1996), which he performed in reverse order. The event was taped for a future DVD.

ROGER WATERS
On this stop of his four-month world tour (June 2-Oct. 12), Pink Floyd co-mastermind Roger Waters performed 1973's still-selling Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety, along with many tracks from 1975's Wish You Were Here and 1979's The Wall.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
Lush-pop singer Rufus Wainwright paid homage to the late great Judy Garland by re-creating her seminal 1961 Carnegie Hall concert — complete with 40-piece orchestra.

ONSTAGE BANTER

JAY-Z
Following an appearance by rapper Foxy Brown, who recently had surgery to restore her hearing, Jigga proudly declared, ''Obviously, the surgery was a success.''

ROGER WATERS
''In 1961, I was 17. I traveled to Beirut, where I was stranded. I was treated so well by a man there that it changed my life.'' (So he's not one for banter...)

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
''We've been over the rainbow, under the rainbow, and tonight we'll be in the rainbow! It's gay pride tonight!'' quipped Wainwright about Garland's classic song.

SPECIAL EFFECTS

JAY-Z
Jay rolled on stage in a white '96 Lexus GS300 that matched his tuxedo; each song was accompanied by video footage — including an homage to Notorious B.I.G.

ROGER WATERS
A kaleidoscopic video extravaganza featuring everything from hurtling asteroids to scenes from the film version of The Wall to pointed antiwar sentiments.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
The gorgeously-gilded Carnegie Hall — and Wainwright's loose, raffish charm — were the only effects needed. And no, this wasn't a drag act, despite some Judy-like jazz hands.

GUESTS

JAY-Z
Performers: Beyoncé, right, (substituting for Mary J. Blige), Foxy Brown, Sauce Money, and Memphis Bleek. Players: DJ Just Blaze, ?uestlove from the Roots, the Illadelphonics, and the Hustler Symphony Orchestra.

ROGER WATERS
None. This was a night for Pink Floyd music. Only Waters' seven-piece, three-backup-singer band made the Moon walk.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
Wainwright's mom, folkie Kate McGarrigle, accompanied him on piano for ''Over the Rainbow.'' Sis Martha Wainwright, left, soloed on a torchy ''Stormy Weather.'' Garland's daughter Lorna Luft duetted with Rufus on ''After You've Gone.'' No Liza Minnelli in sight.

ENCORE

JAY-Z
Jay cranked out abbreviated renditions (sans orchestra) of more than 20 of his greatest hits from other CDs.

ROGER WATERS
''Another Brick in the Wall,'' ''Vera,'' and ''Comfortably Numb'' — with full-crowd participation.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
''Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye'' and ''Get Happy.'' The closer? An audience clap-along to ''San Francisco.''

MERCHANDISE

JAY-Z
The audience received free goody bags containing a commemorative T-shirt, poster, and concert booklet.

ROGER WATERS
T-shirts ($30-$45); mugs and caps ($19)

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
T-shirts ($30); poster aping the original ($15). Upcoming: a show CD, plus a Sam Mendes-directed doc on Wainwright, including concert footage.

BOTTOM LINE

JAY-Z
Jay's flawless delivery + a 35-piece orchestra pumping out classic tracks by DJ Premier and Clark Kent = ghetto fabulousness at its finest! —Margeaux Watson

ROGER WATERS
Between PF's unflagging popularity (see the teen-to-boomer crowd) and Waters' political urgency, the music is as relevant as it was 30 years ago. —Sheri Jennings

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
At times cheeky, but rarely camp, the show had the hall on its feet at the beginning, end, and points in between. An ambitious, soul-lifting tribute. —Beth Johnson

Originally posted Jul 07, 2006 Published in issue #886 Jul 14, 2006 Order article reprints