>Sufjan Stevens at Lee’s Palace; Thursday October 1, 2009.
When I bought these tickets, I couldn’t help but think just how far away the show was. Well… It’s come and gone.
This show was remarkable for so many reasons. I really wasn’t expecting much, but when I received an email from Sufjan’s label apologizing for the ticketless show I knew it was going to be something. Tickets were dirt cheap and the venue was small.
He opened the show up alone with one of his tunes from the Illinois b-side album titled The Avalanche called “The Mistress Witch from McClure (or, The Mind That Knows Itself)”. This song is exactly what I love about Sufjan, he can play the down, slow stuff perfectly or he can get you going with something ridiculously poppy.
Going into this show I really had no expectations. He’s not my favourite artist by any stretch and quite often I find him too camp, and too flamboyant between the choral vocals and completely bizarre lyrics. Tonight everything worked out. I was taken by his slow, sad songs but blown away by his exciting busy tunes.
When he got on stage he made it quite clear the purpose of this very short tour was to showcase new tunes. He followed that up by saying that the new songs are quite long and told everyone if they’re too long they can just go outside for a bit. No one budged. Pitchfork tipped me before hand, I knew his tunes would be much longer.
The band came out for the second song. His band included, a trumpet and a trombone, drums, bass, two, sometimes three guitars and two or three background singers. Not quite the chorus I was dreading. The girl came from the San Francisco bred openers Crypticize. The singer reminded me of the over powering Emily Haines, but significantly daintier and much cuter. She coyly hopped on stage and sang in every song. She was the backbone to all of the songs Sufjan played. The woman’s name is Nedelle Torrisi.
The third song they played was a new song about love, heartbreak and everything wrapped up in one as Sufjan announced. It was probably ten minutes long, giving “American Pie” a run for it’s money. It had many parts to it, layers and angles but it picked up many themes to build on. Repeating wors is always a hit, simple but incredibly effective. I can’t wait until it comes out to hear this one again with better quality.
His new tunes were significantly louder. Perhaps they haven’t been grated through the production process like most of his other songs. Sufjan comes off polished leaving the studio but live he can reproduce that sound. I use to think he was too cheery and choral based. Something about large choirs and singing along kills me. This didn’t do anything, I actually enjoyed what the added vocals did.
I was incredibly amazed by the brass section. They’re some of the most talented brass accompanimetns i’ve heard in a while. The trumpet player particularly played tremendouly well with countless trumpet solo bits. Sufjan’s tunes sounded perfect with an occasional french horn.
He played most of Illinois. I wasn’t let down! But to my surprised he also played “To Be Alone with You” off of Seven Swans which was made popular by the OC. I think it made a soundtrack if I’m not mistaken. He also played “That Dress Looks Nice On You” as well.
I think his new albums going to be great. He’s sort of one of those musical chameleons where there is no consistancy throughout his music, but he manages to establish a similar sound throughout.
It’s been probably four years since he played Trinity St. Paul. Boy I wish I was at that show.