Tuesday night, BH and I went to see Sufjan Stevens at The Long Center, and I'm still recovering.
A word about my relationship with Sufjan's music: It's not often that I can remember where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard a particular artist. But I can do that with REM, PJ Harvey, Rufus Wainwright, and Sufjan. It was back when I was renting Karla's house, and I was on my way home from work, stuck in traffic, listening to "All Things Considered." They were interviewing Sufjan and playing clips from his album "(Come On Feel The) Illinois," and I was completely taken by him and his music. It was so different than anything I'd heard--simultaneously complex and delicate. I found myself scrambling for a pen and some paper so I could write down his name and the name of the album so I could purchase it immediately. I have loved and been fascinated by his music ever since.
Fast forward to Tuesday night. I bought our tickets to this concert the second they came out, however, I was bummed because the best I could get were upper balcony. But it didn't matter. The sound quality at The Long Center is exceptional, and Sufjan's band is so large, that our perspective was actually kind of nice. And I know his music, so I expected the concert to be goodm, but it was EXCELLENT. This is just the 7th show on their tour to support an EP that came out this summer and his latest album that came out on 10/12. So there was a lot of joy and energy to their playing. But I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of his music that I found myself crying at times. Dorky, I know, but it happens. It happened when I went to see Rufus Wainwright at the Paramount when it was just him and his piano. There were times while he was playing--and on Tuesday, while Sufjan was playing--when I felt like I couldn't breathe, like if I did, it would break the spell he'd cast on me. That's because, to me, seeing Sufjan (and Rufus and a very few other musicians I love) in concert means being able to watch a genius at work, which is not something we get to do every day.
Sufjan is a young (only 35!), highly-prolific multi-instrumentalist/singer, who writes poetic lyrics and difficult lovely arrangements for his extremely original songs. If that isn't the definition of a genius, I don't know what is. After spending a couple of hours watching and listening to Sufjan perform, I was blissful and inspired. I couldn't stop smiling while we walked to our car. I will never be able to listen to his recorded music the same way again because I now have this whole other point of reference--an additional layer, as it were--to appreciate added to music I already loved.
Sigh...I feel so lucky.