Emotions run high as Rufus and Martha pay tribute to their mother

Rufus Wainwright performs during Sundance London at Indigo at O2 Arena

Rufus and Martha Wainwright, o2 Indigo, London, April 29 2012:

When Nick Cave asks you for directions on the way in, Richard Curtis is behind you at the bar and Joe Boyd is sitting two tables away, well, you know you’re at a must-see event.

This short and intimate show by Rufus and sister Martha came straight after the premiere of a film tribute to their folk-singing mother Kate McGarrigle, who died of cancer in 2010.

The pair were still dazed from the impact of this highly emotional movie, which was shown as part of the Sundance London film festival. So a few stumbles with the words to Kate’s songs were both endearing and forgivable.

Guest spots by Teddy Thompson and Krystle Warren helped to highlight the true strength of this show… here were four incredible voices singing some of the most beautiful songs ever written.

Martha Wainwright performs during Sundance London at Indigo at O2 Arena

Martha was a revelation. A solo version of her mother’s song Tell My Sister (from the 1975 debut album by Kate and Anna McGarrigle) was an astonishing feat of vocal power that prompted waves of applause mid-song.

She and Rufus harmonised on the sublime Talk To Me Of Mendocino, then it was all over too soon with Teddy and Krystle joining the Wainwrights for an a capella version of Rufus’s own song Candles, written in tribute, of course, to the late, great Kate.

The film that left the performers (and most of the audience) so emotionally drained is called Sing Me Songs That Say I Love You. It was completed only two days before the premiere by its young director Lian Lunson.

Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright perform at Indigo at O2 Arena.jpg

Based around a Kate McGarrigle tribute show in New York last year, it’s intercut with interviews, home movies and moving images of Kate in her very last days.

Performances by tonight’s four stars plus Emmylou Harris and Norah Jones are shot in long, lingering close-up and the powerful grief of Rufus, Martha and their family is up there raw on the screen.

As the lights went up at O2 Cineworld, every eye in the house was glistening with tears. What a fabulous movie. What a fabulous show.