Whenever I see Mark Kozelek’s name, I get excited. Actually – to be more correct I get emotional. Emotional might be the most apt way to describe Kozelek’s body of work. Since the “sadcore” pre-Nirvana days of former band, Red House Painters, Kozelek has been seemingly creating a world just for me to live in. It would be selfish though to ruse on the idea that Kozelek cares for one singular fan (me) growing up and coming of age in the deep south of America in the 90’s, maturing and being confused about everything involving the opposite sex and why pets die in the 2000s, and trying to move along, survive and change against everyone’s expectations in the ‘tweens while musing on the past in a Scandinavian setting. It seems Koz’ and mine own righteous paths have been nothing but congruent throughout our adult lives.
Wherever you’re at with your reverence of Kozelek’s career, these are very interesting and beautiful times to be a fan of his music and performances. 2013/14 has been the most prolific period of his lengthy and heralded career, but what should we expect from a “Sun Kil Moon” show this Tuesday at Atlas?
We can gather from his last 3 recordings under the moniker Sun Kil Moon, that Kozelek will be bringing a Spanish guitar and playing seated. That’s a given, but for the first time officially since the final few performances by Red House Painters in the late 90’s he is booked as a band. Set lists have been weighted heavily towards material from Benji, an album that has both divided and elated critics and fans of Kozelek’s output. Benji could be seen as a bit of a departure for Kozelek – gone are the ballads of unrequited love, gone are any hints of wide-eyed wonderment and sentimental ruminations of the sepia tinted childhood he keeps returning to in earlier work, and replaced with a slightly more pugnacious and aggressive tone and singing in some cases in an almost deadpan “rap” about death, early (and very explicit I might add) sexual conquests and very frank observations on paternal/maternal love and trips to the pictures to see Led Zeppelin’s Song Remains the Same. There are of course references to pets (a good portion of every Kozelek penned album in the 2000’s focuses on the love of his cats).
Sketchy fan uploaded videos from this tour suggest an intimate show with the man himself, fleshed out with a skeleton of a band on percussion, harmonies and keys. The focus though is undoubtedly the unmistaken beautiful voice and flamenco acrobatics that have become the standard for Kozelek’s solo performances over the last decade or so.
Now, What should you expect? Expect one of the quietest and most self-reflective concerts you’ll ever attend. Don’t get too rowdy though, Kozelek is notorious for taking the piss out of unsuspecting audience members, especially middle-aged men who tend to want to shout out requests for Red House Painters songs. Last time he was in town (Musikcafeen in 2011) he even wrote a line about us here in Aarhus – and we apparently faired much better than the copenhageners:
“Left Helsinki, the next stop was Aarhus
A taxi, two airplanes, and a fucking shuttle bus
Everybody’s white, everyone rides bikes
Everyone rides bikes, everybody’s white
Left for London via Copenhagen, for a concert in the park at 1:30pm
Got up on the stage, people gathered round
Retro 80s band… drowned out my sound
went and got my check, went back to my room
Feeling suicidal, feeling full of gloom
Turned on the TV, there was rioting & stuff…
As if this city isn’t depressing enough”
(From “UK Blues”)
…So that might come up in conversation. I suppose there is a slight bit of truth in our bard’s forked tongue and astute observations on our little city.
In fact- Kozelek has several more references to Denmark in recent Sun Kil Moon offerings – a beautiful reflection on time spent on Alesund down south. A masterfully executed piece, both with his flamenco playing/composition chops, and poetic remembrance of a strange and beautiful night in one of Denmark’s stunning martime scenes.
Basically for this writer, this show will no doubtedly be one of the highlights of the concert year, and I can’t imagine too many other venues being more ideal for myself and other concert attendees to experience the majesty of our first visit from Kozelek performing with an ensemble.
As always, Sound Of Aarhus would like everyone to have a pleasant experience, so please listen responsibly, keep the phones away, the chatter to a minimum, and respect the performer, venue staff and other guests in the room.
Tickets are still available at this time for 220 dkk, and doors at Atlas open at 19.00. You’ll see me there with a box of tissues for sure.