November 16, 2010

Sufjan Stevens played the Beacon Theater

Upon first listen to Sufjan Stevens, it is apparent that nothing about him is simple. The progression of his work has done nothing but prove that notion and his live performance seals the deal. For the final stop on his first proper tour in several years, the grandiose nature of his recordings were brought to life by an eleven person backing band including ribbon twirlers, interpretive dancers, and a stereo arrangement of percussionists surrounding the ring leader himself at center stage. The show opened and closed with old classics; the slow banjo plucking of "Seven Swans" kicked off the evening before an onslaught of new material and the sensational "Chicago" was the lone encore. Despite the possible unfamiliarity of the new tunes, the show itself was a spectacle complete with stimulating visuals, complex backdrops, elaborate costume changes, and a full performance of The Age of Adz epic closer "Impossible Soul". There was witty banter between songs during which Mr. Stevens referred to his prophet grandfather who shot lightning bolts from his hands and feet and gave an extensive background of the artist whom inspired his latest work. Full rich dense textures of new favorites "Too Much" and "I Walked" took the crowd to the cosmos and folk ballad "Heirloom" was as light as a cloud. The crowd finally rose to applause as balloons fell from above at the end of the main set and an ever gracious and majestic Sufjan bowed before an embracing audience.

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