Sufjan’s comeback hits a high note

At one point during his show on Tuesday, Oct. 12, Sufjan Stevens proclaimed: “It’s just like one big love-fest in here.” And it was. After over a year without touring, Stevens began his tour in Montreal on Tuesday night, the same day that “The Age of Adz” dropped. This concert showed a louder, more techno-influenced Stevens than the soft melodies of times past. The songs retained Stevens’ endearing earnestness, however, as they delved deep into a soul-searching journey. The concert felt like a surreal trip inside Stevens’ consciousness that the sold-out venue was led through together. Stevens opened with “All the Delighted People,” the title track from his recent EP, singing appropriately, “I feel alive/I feel it glowing in the room,” before closing the song with the audience-inspiring request: “All delighted people raise their hands.” The songs were set against the dynamic artwork of space and cities, neon-colored lines being drawn or images of people, including himself. At one point, Stevens spoke about how “The Age of Adz” was inspired by Royal Robertson, a man who painted artwork relating to life, the world and the apocalypse and who suffered from schizophrenia. Much of the art playing on the screen behind Stevens came from this man’s artwork, Stevens said. He then proceeded to dedicate the song “Get Real, Get Right” to Robertson. Stevens was not all seriousness, despite the heavy subject matter of many of his songs. There were moments when he couldn’t help but smile, and he danced on stage a good deal. Stevens at one point warned the audience to “get a drink, go to the bathroom” because the next thing he was going to perform was what he called the “magnum love opus.” This referred to the more than 25-minute-long “Impossible Soul,” which he played in its entirety.  Listening to “Soul” was nothing short of a transformative musical experience.  He led the crowd through dark times to upbeat revelations, finally applying these revelations to the conflicts of his life. After “Impossible Soul,” which received applause that lasted after multiple thank yous from Stevens — as well as an exclamation of “That was awesome!” from one audience member — Stevens took the energy of the audience still a step higher by segueing into fan-favorite “Chicago.” Stevens ended the show on this high note. The audience proceeded to stamp their feet and cheer, demanding Stevens return for an encore. He came back on and played a couple of older songs — nearly the entire concert was off of “The Age of Adz” — including “John Wayne Gacy.”