The first two are when she just came out and the last three are from her last song. The glockenspiel was from Be Good, and the fist pump from This Is War. I have so many more pictures and they’re all from my phone so none are amazing, but everything was amazing. I am so happy I went.
LIVE REVIEW: Sufjan Stevens - Kings Theatre, Brooklyn - May 1, 2015
Words and Photos by Francesca Beltran
It was no surprise that listening to Sufjan Stevens play Carrie and Lowell live was a deeply moving experience. The record is, after all, a reflection on his complicated relationship with his mother, Carrie, and the impact her abandonment had in his life. It’s through his most personal record that the composer aims to assimilate a loss that happened long before Carrie passed away in 2012, leaving too many painful questions unanswered.
The show took place at the spectacular Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, and began with the instrumental piece, “Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou).” During the first hour, the musician devoted himself exclusively to play the material from his latest album, without addressing the audience. It was just Stevens with his music and visuals, that ranged from heartwarming home videos to stunning landscapes, paying tribute to his mother. Each song was played with an almost tangible sentiment, highlighted by his emotive falsettos and very profound lyrics.
‘Should I tear my heart out now? Everything I feel returns to you somehow,’ sang Stevens, making the audience shake. Truth is it’s hard for songs that are this heartbreaking, not to provoke a strong emotional response from the crowd. In “Carrie & Lowell” for instance, a video shows a loving family, taking us to a moment in the musician’s life where everything seemed to be alright, and it is then that one wonders, where is that smiling mother now?
The climax of the evening came with “Fourth Of July,” which ended with Stevens on the piano repeating, ‘We’re all gonna die,” while the music slowly gained momentum, accompanied by a spectacular show of lights. In fact, it is through visuals, instrumentation and arrangements that Sufjan succeeds in transforming a very human experience into something truly majestic.
After one hour straight of Carrie & Lowell, the musician finally broke the silence and addressed the audience, first with a thank you and then with a monologue that showed a wonderful sense of humor. There we were, tissues in hand, laughing with him and his multiple anecdotes. We expected a wounded soul and there he was, this extraordinary man making an entire theatre laugh. This was without a doubt the most rewarding surprise of watching Sufjan Stevens live.
The second half of the show, that lasted a total of two hours, was dedicated to play older hits, including, “To Be Alone With You,” “Sister” (which he dedicated to his sister) and “The Dress Looks Nice On You.” Stevens finished the show in a completely different mood, joking with the crowd, thanking his stepfather Lowell for being there and dedicating to him, “For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti.” ‘I love you very much,’ were his last words that night, to us? To Lowell? To his mother? It doesn’t really matter. He said goodbye with a fantastic rendition of “Chicago,” and the theatre in turn, farewelled him with a well-deserved standing ovation.