Going into the Sufjan Stevens show last night, I must admit I didn’t know what to expect. Having heard great things about his live set, the bar was set pretty high for him. This was his second date in New York as there are two sold out nights in Williamsburg to follow. The show opened with Asthmatic Kitty labelmates, Cryptacize who were a pleasant surprise. Singer Nedelle Torrisi has a soft angelic voice that’s not afraid to mix dark with poppy. The band seemed well recieved by the crowd.
Then, it was Sufjan time. No matter how big this guy gets, he still comes on stage to set up his own equipment. Fans in the front of the stage were sneaking pictures of him getting ready with smiles on their faces. With a band of over ten people it’s amazing how they even fit onto the Bowery stage.
Stevens greeted the crowd and launched into the set with banjo in hand. The setlist was mostly a cross between new songs and Come on Feel the Illinoise which made for a stellar lineup. Seeing Stevens play live is every bit as amazing as hearing his records. He sings with little effort because it comes so natural to him. The backup singers who included Nedelle from Cryptacize sounded heavenly behind the mixture of trumpets and assorted wind instruments that appeared throughout the night.
One thing I learned about Sufjan last night is that he is a bit of a joker. He said he is ‘”not very good talking onstage,” before he announced a string of songs, giggling “this one’s by Sufjan Stevens!” A lot of the new songs that he played last night strayed away from his orchestral sound that we’ve come to know and love. The new tracks with titles like “Impossible Soul” and “There is Too Much Love in Here,” are a bit electronic based but not in a cheesey way that feels forced. Somehow these songs still fit in with the likes of his banjo/acoustic songs like “Casimir Pulaski Day” which was one of the highlights of the night. Another surprise Sufjan had up his sleeves was the track “The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts,” which they hadn’t played it in so long that he admittedly had to write out the words to keep onstage. Stevens and the band played it flawlessly though, just like the other songs in the set. The show closed with a short encore: a low key version of “Chicago” and the earlier mentioned new tune “There is Too Much Love in Here,” as Sufjan stated that the encore had to end ‘just right and louder.’ It did just that.
Photos by Ivy Weir
Check out MORE Photos of Sufjan’s Show AFTER THE JUMP