It’s not quite the superhero film revolution we were promised, but it sure as hell is entertaining
Sufjan Stevens: Shepherds Bush Empire, London: Monday, Oct 17
Ladies and gents, we’re in the presence of genius
But then, that’s the kind of devotion Sufjan Stevens inspires – pretty special for a singer promoting a concept album about the state of Illinois. Not everyone here is nostalgic for the US Midwest, surely.
‘(Come On Feel The) Illinoise’ is the second part (after 2003’s ‘Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State’) of Stevens’ highly ambitious plan to create a complete musical map of the USA. Both the conceptual scope of the project and the music itself recalls such cosmic American benchmarks as Brian Wilson’s ‘Smile’ and Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ – high praise indeed, but tonight’s performance proves he is unquestionably up there with such lauded acts.
So, with the mainman alternating between banjo and piano, we get a touching, non-judgemental reflection of the life of a serial killer (‘John Wayne Gacy, Jnr’) and an ode to the aforementioned Superman (‘The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts’) while six-piece band the ‘Illinoisemakers’ cook up an intoxicating stew of lo-fi indie pop, acid folk and classic rock.
The deliriously uplifting ‘Chicago’ brings to an end one of the greatest gigs NME has seen all year.
Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album
The film adaptation of R.L. Stine's classic horror novels is shockingly enjoyable
A defiantly bangerless take-me-seriously-as-an-artist album that reveals new charms every time you spin it
The utterly gripping story of how The Boston Globe exposed child abuse within the Catholic church