Sufjan Steven’s show at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium was unlike any show I had ever been to before. 12 band members graced the stage with 2 drummers, 2 back-up singers/dancers, a 3 piece horn section, bass, guitar, 2 pianists and Stevens. None of this was over kill and would have detracted from the show had all the musicians not been there.
Steven’s spent most of his evening traveling through All Delighted People EP and The Age of Adz LP with his infamous banjos making only a few rare appearances. This might not have been exactly what most fans expected from the show. To most fans, Come on Feel The Illinoise was the album that sucked them into loving Stevens. These same fans are probably still trying to wrap their heads around the new LP.
The Age of Adz was played nearly in it’s entirety, including the epically long, 25 minute track “Impossible Soul”, which sees Stevens change from mild manner digi-folk rocker into an old skool hip-hop star armed with auto-tune, neon visor and corny robot dance moves.
Numerous times throughout the show Stevens took time to try and explain his new direction – most of which could be attributed to the fact that he battled a life threatening illness before writing The Age of Adz. Stevens spoke in length about the Louisiana folk artist Royal Robertson, who was the single influence for the new album, saying , “His work struck me as beautiful and divine and tragic”. Robertson’s art was also integrated into the backdrop video that played almost continually through the show. A show that just so happened to fall on Robertson’s birthday with his widow, Adell, was present for the performance (the final song of the night was dedicated to her).
After such a synthesizer heavy main set, and a roaring standing ovation, Stevens returned to the stage to put some of his Illinoise fans at east by playing intimate performances of “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, IL”, “Casimir Pulaski Day”, and “The Dress Looks Nice on You”. The encore found the crowd quieter than ever before, intently soaking in some of their favorite songs and trying to keep one final memory of an unforgettable evening with a musician that this attendee would consider to be a musical genius.
01. Seven Swans
02. Too Much
03. Age of Adz
05. I Walked
06. Futile Devices
08. Now That I’m Older
09. Enchanting Ghost
10. Impossible Soul
01. Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, IL
02. Casimir Pulaski Day
03. The Dress Looks Nice on You
(photos stolen from the Dallas Observer)