Sufjan Stevens at Lincoln Center in Audacious and Dramatic Fashion

I must start this post by saying, seeing Sufjan live is like eating pizza, and as we all know, there is no such thing as bad pizza. Well, now that I have that out of the way, I will tell you that I enjoyed the show overall, I enjoyed the song selection (Illinois and Seven Swans exclusively), I really enjoyed the venue, and I enjoyed seeing the songs performed in an “audacious and dramatic fashion”, to quote Mr. Stevens himself. Did I like the show more than the Bowery? Hard to say, totally different vibe at the Bowery, lots of energy and fun and no pretense. At Lincoln Center I counted 17 black clad, stone faced, musicians on the stage (including Sufjan), doing their best to maintain an air of somberness throughout Sufjan’s Lincoln Center Debut. Now I have to hand it Sufjan for showing his fellow musicians some love and giving them all jobs, but does anyone need, I mean really need two glockenspielists (in a non-calypso band, that is). The strings were the main addition to this show, and they were a welcome addition for the most part, my only beef (and this was my main beef with the whole show) is that they were overused at times and detracted from my enjoyment of some of the songs. While “All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands” is definitely one of my favorite songs, to me, its power, and its beauty, comes from the sparseness of the orchestration (just a banjo and a piano), so hearing it with an additional layer of strings kind of turned me off, the same can be said the overly string laden intro to “Sister”. I kind of felt Sufjan was trying to achieve this Phil Spectorish Wall of Sound on every one of his songs, and while it worked sometimes, sometimes it was just a little too much. Having said all of that, I’m really glad I went, and I wouldn’t mind getting the bootleg from the guy who sat beside with the eyeglass microphones.

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