When Sufjan Stevens was announced on this year’s Vivid LIVE lineup in March, it was mainly his Sydney-based fans who rejoiced. Stevens’ four Sydney Opera House Vivid shows are his only Australian dates for the time being, but the singer-songwriter has now said he’s looking towards 2016 for a full-blown Aussie jaunt.
“We’ve been talking about 2016, coming out for the summer and playing in the other cities,” Stevens said. “I had such an incredible time travelling around to Adelaide and Melbourne and Perth during the Age Of Adz tour, it was one of the highlights of my touring life, so I definitely want to come back.”
Turning his attention to his forthcoming Vivid LIVE shows, which begin on 22nd May, Stevens said he will be playing Carrie & Lowell in full at each of the shows, with a stripped-back supporting crew.
“The band is really small, there’s five of us,” Stevens said. “It’s mostly deliberately simple and austere. We are playing the record in its entirety, which has been really, really difficult. But the show has a lot more dynamic range than the record.
“I’ve hired a lighting designer and there are moments that are extremely augmented to fill the environment of the space of the theatre. We allow for the songs – especially the kind of ambient, new age moments in the record – we love for them to develop more robustly onstage than they do on the record.”
Stevens said that performing Carrie & Lowell, which largely focuses on the relationship he had with his mother, who left him when he was still a child, has helped him heal.
“We’ve been doing three weeks now and I feel really relieved,” Stevens said. “I feel a sense of catharsis. I think it has a lot to do with a shared experience in a room with other people, with the public. There is a kind of camaraderie that’s necessary and fundamental to playing live.
“I think that’s necessary in the healing process – to forgive and accept, but also to relinquish your pain into the world, into the universe. There’s a process in performing this music that allows me to lose possession of the experience itself. To give it away.
“So far that seems to be working. We’ll see if I have a panic attack and a nervous breakdown a month from now. But so far it’s been really helpful and cathartic.”
Stevens last performed in Australia in 2012, as part of the Planetarium project with long-term collaborators Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly.
Watch: Sufjan Stevens – Should Have Known Better