May 23, 2015

Sufjan Stevens @ Sydney Opera House

In the great scheme of things Sufjan Stevens sits somewhere near the top. His music is singular and transcendental. Plainly he is quite extraordinary, a celestial being. So any opportunity to see him live is one to be treasured and one not to be missed. Friday night in Sydney was the first of four consecutive nights at the Sydney Opera House as part of the annual Vivid Festival. This show would showcase material from his new and truly excellent album Carrie & Lowell. In fact he would play the whole album in full, if not in order. The album is deeply personal and totally amazing and live it was even better, if that is possible.

Augmented by video and a dazzling light show the music leaped off the stage and into our hearts. It was personal and monumental from song to song. Songs were fleshed out by the five piece band, adding extra touches that don't exist on the album. "Fourth of July" expanded and stunned. "No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross" was impossibly beautiful, whilst the solo version of "All of Me Wants All of You" was near tear inducing. He hardly spoke, as the canvas of the music was drawn across us. When he finished he addressed the audience and spoke of life, death and purpose. It was actually quite profound and sometimes a little funny. Then he settled into a few older tunes with the sublime "Casimir Pulaski Day" being especially amazing. Then he returned to the final song from the new album. Holy Cow! "Blue Bucket of Gold" started tenderly on piano before it descended into a near ten minute storm of music that kept building and building until it near exploded. Stunning to say the least.

After a prolonged and ecstatic standing ovation the band returned for more, giving us more classics including a rousing and smile bearing "Chicago" to close the night. A night so special it will long in the memory. Thank you Sufjan for being you and gracing us with your presence. 

Set List
Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)
Death With Dignity
Should Have Known Better
Drawn to the Blood
All of Me Wants All of You
John My Beloved
The Only Thing
Fourth of July
No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross
Carrie & Lowell
The Owl and the Tanager
In the Devil's Territory
Casimir Pulaski Day
Futile Devices
To Be Alone With You
Blue Bucket of Gold

Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti
The Dress Looks Nice on You