Sufjan Stevens at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis

IMG_4647Sufjan Stevens stopped by the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis on Saturday in support of his new album Carrie & LowellThe tour features mostly music from the new album, as well as some classic tunes, and marks a return to a sound most fans of Stevens are familiar with.

Stevens is known for his fanfare during live shows.  His tour supporting The Age of Adz featured huge visuals, outlandish, futuristic costumes, back-up dancers, auto-tuned vocals, a horn section, and lots of bright neons.

This tour finds Stevens toned down significantly, though that isn’t to say the show isn’t still grand in scope.  The songs on Carrie & Lowell are intimate and hushed.  This was balanced by a smaller, four-piece backing band comprised of multi-instrumentalists who added subtle sweeping soundscapes to embellish the quiet beauty of Stevens’s newest set of songs.

Arranged behind the band were light panels resembling the stained-glass windows one might find in a cathedral. These panels flashed home movies from Stevens’s childhood, as well as various nature scenes and colors, often bringing the stage to life and providing a backdrop for the narrative of the songs.

The set included the entire new album (though not in the same sequence as the album), highlighting songs like title-track “Carrie & Lowell” and album-closer “Blue Bucket of Gold,” which closed the main set with a climactic outro complete with chaotic instrumentation and light show.

For the encore, Stevens pulled from past albums, playing favorites “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois” and “The Dress Looks Nice on You,” as well as a haunting rendition of “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” Stevens addressed the audience before the final song, “Chicago,” mentioning his appreciation for his fans’ willingness to accompany him through what he described as a very “challenging” tour, playing songs with such personal narrative.

Sufjan Stevens continues his tour in St. Louis tomorrow.  Click here for a full list of tour dates.