Monday, April 20, 2015

Sufjan Stevens @ Peabody Opera House (4/20/2015)


Completely missed Cold Specks.

Sufjan started out with about 10 songs off the latest album (Carrie & Lowell), followed by a lengthy philosophical monologue/"prayer" (which was actually very thoughtful), then a bunch of oldies, and then wrapping up with a new song or two.  The encore featured some more classics, with the crowd-pleasing "Chicago" ending the night.

The contrast between the sections of the show was pretty interesting.  The first part was like a cohesive unit based on the concept of the new album.  During this portion, Sufjan didn't have any banter.  Once this part ended, he launched into his little talk which mostly seemed like a thoughtful extended monologue about parenthood/motherhood, occupation, death, and cherishing life.  His ending of "So I guess my prayer for tonight is..." made me wonder if he has a different thoughtful monologue every show.  After this point, he had more banter and interaction with the crowd, even calling us "boisterous for a Monday night" at one point (because people started yelling out a bunch of song requests during a quiet break between songs).


The video board was in an interesting 9-segment pattern.  The lights were decent, though not mind-blowing.  They broke out a couple of disco balls in the background for one song.  They turned off the video board and many of the main lights for the second section of the show while they played a few mostly acoustic classics.


Before I launch into criticisms, I should mention that I very much respect Mr. Stevens as an artist.  In the tradition of his concept albums, Carrie & Lowell is a nice tribute to his parents and a well-executed idea, even if I find the album a little more mellow than I'd prefer.  That being said, I found a few portions of the show to be overly self-indulgent, especially the wank-fest that was the ending to the main set.  That alone just about ruined the show for me.  Oh, went from mellow acoustics to this loud rock/electronic thing with lots of flashing lights...making zero melodic sense...for 5+ minutes...  How nice.

Another interesting thing to note is how some of the live renditions are essentially remixes (for lack of a better description) of the original songs  These usually involves throwing in electronics or alternate instrumentation, but sometimes is as simple as changing the tempo.  I tend to dislike the change-ups more often than not, but in a couple of instances it really worked for me.  I guess overall I applaud the experimentation.

Oh, and I wish he played more songs off Illinois and Michigan.

Rating: 4.0/5

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