In early September, in the midst of the global pandemic, Austin City Limits made history with its first-ever show in 46 years without a live audience. The unprecedented performance, featuring acclaimed singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright in his ACL debut, premieres October 24 at 8pm CT/9pm ET on PBS as part of the iconic series’ Season 46. Rufus performs highlights from Unfollow the Rules, his first new pop album since 2012. The songwriter delivers a breathtaking performance for troubled times, filled with signature razor-sharp lyrics and soaring vocals. With live music still on pause, ACL continues to provide viewers a front-row seat to the best in live performance. The series airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings) and full episodes are made available online for a limited time at pbs.org/austincitylimits immediately following the initial broadcast.
Rufus Wainwright established himself as a daring, fearless new voice two decades ago with his much-lauded 1998 eponymous debut. Now one of the most distinctive voices in popular music, Rufus showcases songs from his widely acclaimed ninth studio album Unfollow the Rules. Inspired by middle age, married life, fatherhood, friends, loss, London and Laurel Canyon, the release captures the restless creative at the peak of his powers. Opening the intimate hour with the lush, witty pop tune “Trouble In Paradise,” he leans into the record’s Laurel Canyon influence with “Damsel In Distress,” a wonderfully melodic song inspired by his friend and neighbor Joni Mitchell. Backed for this appearance by members of North Texas bands Midlake and the Texas Gentlemen, Rufus’s resplendent vocals are at their soaring best and most exposed. He celebrates the content family man he has become with the domestic bliss gem “Peaceful Afternoon” written for his husband and the sparkling “My Little You” for his young daughter. His maturation into a seasoned artist is evident on the magnificently dramatic “Early Morning Madness” and the barbed “Devils And Angels (Hatred).” Rufus closes the stunning set with a personal-political song from his 2007 album Release the Stars, remarking with trademark caustic wit: “Here’s another uptempo number about everything’s so terrible,” before launching into “Going To A Town,” featuring the daringly outspoken chorus: I’m going to a town that has already been burnt down…I’m so tired of America.”
“I like to say we make history every time an artist makes their debut on Austin City Limits,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “but this was historic on a grand scale. Taping without an audience in the midst of the pandemic, uncertain whether it was even possible, was an emotional experience. Rufus delivered an epic performance like no other.”
Rufus Wainwright setlist:
Trouble In Paradise
Damsel In Distress
Unfollow The Rules
You Ain’t Big
Only the People That Love
My Little You
Early Morning Madness
Devils And Angels (Hatred)
Going To A Town
Season 46 Broadcast Line-up (six new episodes to be announced):
October 3 The Best of John Prine
October 10 Yola
October 17 Stevie Ray Vaughan 30 Years On
October 24 Rufus Wainwright
October 31 ACL Presents: 50 Years of Asleep at the Wheel
November 7 John Legend & The Roots: Wake Up!
November 14 Jackie Venson | Mavis Staples w/Bonnie Raitt
November 21 The Mavericks
Tune-in, log on, and let ACL be a trusted sidekick for entertainment during these challenging days. The complete line-up for the full 13-week season will be announced at a later date. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding live streams, future tapings and episode schedules or by following ACL on Facebook, Twitter and IG. . Fans can also browse the ACL YouTube channel for exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes videos and full-length artist interviews.
About Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits offers viewers unparalleled access to featured acts in an intimate setting that provides a platform for artists to deliver inspired, memorable, full-length performances. Now in its 46th Season, the program is taped live before a concert audience from The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in television history and remains the only TV series to ever be awarded the National Medal of Arts. Since its inception, the groundbreaking music series has become an institution that’s helped secure Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. The historic KLRU Studio 6A, home to 36 years of ACL concerts, has been designated an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark. In 2011, ACL moved to the new venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. ACL received a rare institutional Peabody Award for excellence and outstanding achievement in 2012.
Austin City Limits is produced by Austin PBS, KLRU-TV and funding is provided in part by Dell Technologies, RigUp, the Austin Convention Center Department and Cirrus Logic. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Austin City Limits. Learn more about Austin City Limits, programming and history at acltv.com.