Live Review: Sufjan Stevens, 11/12.

Thom Lau last saw Sufjan Stevens perform in 2006. Since then, he’s abandoned the 50 States project, began to lose faith in music, got quite ill and then pulled himself back together to produce “The Age of Adz”, which he’s promoting on a stateside tour ending with 2 nights in the Orpheum, Boston. T.L. was present to see this “new” Sufjan and hear his latest offerings…

The Age of Adz is heavily influenced and inspired by outsider artist Royal Robertson. Perhaps the only bad thing here is the fact Royal was batshit crazy and Sufjan has definitely taken many cues. The theme for tonight looks like Tron meets cowboys. Sufjan is wearing what appears to be silver chaps with day glo stickers liberally attached to his face and body. And there are costume changes now…

The air of schizophrenia is musical too as Sufjan almost plays exclusively from his new album. He dances now, too, and electro popping and locking are alternated with more traditional Sufjan acoustic folk affairs. The backdrop of all this are druggy visuals inspired by Royal Robertson and, quite frankly, worrying/pretentious crowd banter where Sufjan talks us through his artistic and mental struggles. It seems like the whole evening is a journey through a disturbed genius as the songs still carry Stevens’ amazing talent for orchestration, drama, delicateness and bombast.

The whole experience is certainly engaging if not always comfortable. I can’t help think what happened to Sufjan (everyone screams “drugs!”). However, Sufjan hasn’t completely lost his marbles as he finishes his set with the songs everyone has been waiting for. “Chicago”, “To Be Alone With You”, “Casmir Pulaski Day” and “Romulus” are all broken out in an impressive closing sequence that featured confetti, balloons and beach balls.

A talented genius, it will be interesting where Sufjan Stevens’ sanity will bring us next.