Concert: Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (Live)

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The one is just achingly sublime. Sufjan Stevens wrote an album of songs of naked pain and pure anguish, which speak of his sorrow of having been robbed of his mother by cancer at a young age. No, this is not an album of profound love for a mother but of repressed laments for a mother who was seldom there because of drugs. This is an album seeking for an understanding of a life-changing moment. This year no other album affected me this much. This is an album of slow heartbreaking odes to deep loss. By loss I am talking about the loss of love, innocence, youth, ideals and more. The arrangement is quietly lush and Stevens’ layered voice is the tour guide through a landscape of your life’s ragged signposts you want to forget. The album is fueled by memories, sceneries and the weight of histories.

I wrote the above in the wake of 2015. No other albums released that year came close to usurping it from the top spot of my fave albums. I let you in on another tidbit. Every time I change something in my hifi, I will always play the album from start to end to listen to the sonic improvement, however small.

This is a concert where all the songs in the album are performed in chronological order with additional songs that are in the same vein. If the album feels depressing and weighted, the re-arrangements of the songs in the gig feel elegiac and ethereal, and dare I say, buoyant with such hopefulness. The stage is very simple and the ubiquitous big screen resembles the tall stained coloured glass panels of a church, projecting Sufjan Stevens’ home movies of his mother. The cinematography will take a while to get used to – it looks like it was shot through suffused lights and a kaleidoscope of colours. To me it felt like I wasn’t watching a concert; I was experiencing an ode to a mother through her eyes as her angelic force hovers over her son.

This a brilliant concert of an astonishing album and I want to cry.

 

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