There's not much point in overstating the already negative tone of the full concert review. To personalize it a bit, though, last night's Sufjan Stevens at the Orpheum was one of the most disappointing, messiest shows I've seen in years by a performer I actually enjoy and admire. In fact, I like Sufjan enough to hope plenty of you disagree. I can't help but wonder, though, if the concert would have sold out had fans heard the new album before tickets went on sale, and known it would have been the crux of the set list. I'm all for artists reinventing themselves and/or playing new albums in their near-entirety (Rufus Wainwright's similar concert at Orchestra Hall was one of my favorites this year). I applaud Stevens for giving it a try. But the live show has to be extra finessed and fine-tuned in these cases, and this one was far from it. Here's the order to the disorder:
Seven Swans / Too Much / Age of Adz / Heirloom / I Walked / The Owl & the Tanager / Vesuvius / Get Real Get Right / Now That I'm Older / Enchanting Ghost / Impossible Soul / Chicago ENCORE: Concerning the UFO sighting Near Highland, Illinois / Casimir Pulaski Day / The Dress Looks Nice on You
And how about opener D.M. Stith? The guy sounded terrific but was absolutely lost in the disarray. Fans were still streaming to their seats through the end of his set, thanks to the otherwise welcome anti-scalper ticket policy and the early start time. Why not advertise 7:30 p.m. and start at 8? To make matters worse, Stith's name did not appear in any pre-show marketing, and he did not introduce himself to audience members who arrived mid-set. He could have Bonnie "Prince" Billy for all the crowd knew (except for Will Oldham fans, of course).