Sufjan Stevens, Dublin, May 17th & 18th

Genius songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and god botherer Sufjan Stevens has just announced two live dates at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre for May 17th & 18th.

According to Jim Carroll’s On The Record blog, tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday and are priced at €44.20 and €39.20 (bring binoculars for these ones). Ticketmaster tax is not included in those prices, as is traditional.

Sufjan released his latest album The Age of Adz (pronounced odds) last October. The record is Sufjan Stevens’ first full-length collection of original songs since 2005’s civic pop opus Illinois. Take a moment to set aside all preconceptions, as this is Sufjan as we’ve never heard him before.

This new album is notable, and unusual, for its preoccupation with Sufjan himself. There are few narrative conceits or character sketches; there are no historical panoramas, no literary manoeuvres, no expository illustrations drenched in cultural theory, no scene setting, conflict resolution or denouement.

The themes developed here are personal and primal: love, sex, death, disease, anxiety and suicide make appearances in a tapestry of electronic pop songs that convey a sense of urgency and immediacy as never before seen in this songwriter. The idea of unmitigated love runs deepest, often with shameless candour. Whether singing about old age, illness, or the Apocalypse, Sufjan can’t help but render everything through the lens of love and affection, the desire for contact, closeness, and connection.

The Age of Adz is heavily arranged with brass, strings, woodwinds and a lush choir of backing voices, like the soundtrack to the most astonishing cosmic musical ever created. The live elements create vivacious juxtapositions against the montage of synthesized sounds, evoking their own kind of literal “sonic theory”— that is, the conflict and resolution between Real and Unreal, or Ordinary vs. Extraordinary.

A 5 minute sell out? Probably.

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