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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, October 28, 2004
    Seeing Sufjan
    Saw Sufjan in concert this evening. It wasn't life-changing but it was certainly life-enhancing.

    "The most self-effacing American artist I've seen," Paul said. Everything about Sufjan is modesty, grace and understatement. That became obvious from his opening line, "This one goes out to the one I love." Knowing looks around the muso-heavy audience at the Night and Day; the guy was being cleverly post-modern with an ironic REM reference. But a few chords later it became clear he was actually starting his set with his own version of that very song, a gorgeous, gentle version. Captivating. Three minutes later his sheer craftsmanship had won most over.

    That and the pretty-boy eyes, the modest smile, and what followed - quirky stories about old lovers which explain some of his wierder lyrics, songs about his sister and his dad in downhome Michigan state.

    He played less than an hour, which was a disappointment, but within that hour held us transfixed by the beauty of his singular visions. Especially, for me tonight, Seven Swans - a lovely, lovely meditation on some sort of holy epiphany in the dark night at the parental home.

    Outside we were sucked into Manchester traffic mayhem with the crowds emerging from the Arena's Lionel Richie gig. In their thousands they'd been enjoying Dancing on the Ceiling. We, far fewer in number, had been floating in wonder through The Great Lake State, captivated by a young man with a mandolin and a gap-tooth smile.