The Verse’s Lou Clement reviews the Sun Kil Moon/Jesu gig at Concorde 2
It was a rainy Monday evening and I was headed to the Concorde 2 to see Mark Kozelek and the band play. The gig was billed as Jesu / Sun Kil Moon, following Kozelek’s collaborative album release in January this year.
I was reading about Mark Kozelek and listening to the Jesu / Sun Kil Moon in the hours after work and before the gig; my favourite track on the album was Carondolet. It was infused with heavy guitar and proved absolutely addictive listening.
Kozelek’s distinct sound has filtered into the general consciousness through songs featured in series such as Sons of Anarchy and Californication. But that’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of both his back catalogue and his appeal.
In this latest album, he collaborates with long-term friend Justin Broadrick, working as Jesu. During the gig, he commented that he’d worked well over a number of years with Broadrick and importantly they worked at speed. Collaborations on the album also include guest vocals from Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billie) and members of the band Low.
I was stood close to the stage, the band appeared and launched straight into a song. Kozelek then chatted to the crowd; you felt like he wanted to build a rapport and the audience welcomed it.
It was when they began to play Exodus that I realised I was in the hands of an extraordinary performer. The song is a heartbreaking lament for families who grieve the death of a child. The sincerity of emotion and the expressiveness of the lyrics were breathtaking. Aside from the subject matter, the informal conversational style of his lyricism engaged the audience in a way I can only imagine a poet like Allan Ginsberg or Bukowski would. You are listening out for every word, except when Kozelek stops the speech-like singing for the fully sung lyric ‘I send you my love’ you are 100% there with him in sharing the agony and empathy. Later, when the ten-minute epic song turns to a personal recollection, I was in tears. It was the most moving performance I’ve seen in a long time. More like theatre than live music. More like poetry, really.
Kozelek’s banter with the audience had the effect of making us feel cosy in the Concorde 2, which he called ‘a little bar by the sea’. Sun Kil Moon opened with a track written on the train down to Brighton; I like to think that’s because Brighton is an inspiring place to be. It was a political song, in which he mentioned the recent bombings and murders that we hear reported daily on the news, he offered us a chance to reflect on the media coverage and how these devestating events make you feel. He offers a currency of thought that’s both heartfelt and relevant. When he announced Carondolet I hollered my support, Jesus, what a song, although I may never learn the many lyrics, they are worth looking up and reading. Kozelek is a storyteller.