Gig Reviews

Sun Kil Moon – Vicar Street – Live Review – 28-11-17

Sun Kil Moon – Vicar Street – Live Review – 28-11-17

Review by Killian Laher

In a year where Mark Kozelek has released an awful lot of awful music, he and his band Sun Kil Moon rounded off their European tour with probably his biggest ever show in Dublin.  With no support, they started a marathon set not long after 8pm, finishing a mere three hours later.  With so much new music to choose from, Kozelek was always going to draw his set mostly from recent albums, which he did, consulting page after page of lyric sheets in between prowling the stage.  He was in a good mood, berating the crowd far less than usual as he delivered rambling songs like Daffodils and Black Butterfly interspersed with rambling rants about U2, Steely Dan (who he doesn’t like), AC/DC, Neil Young and Thin Lizzy (who he does), boxers (he likes) and Conor McGregor (he’s not sure about him).  He took time out to slag off The Edge’s guitar style, telling all and sundry how much better a guitarist he is, though his own guitar was largely ignored for the night.  He also addressed his fans who want to hear Red House Painters songs from 1995 while slating bands who tour 30 year old albums while his band kept things tight musically.  This would all be fine but for the complete lack of good songs on show.

Kozelek came across increasingly as a parody of himself, referencing Shane McGowan, Led Zeppelin, his dick etc, asking us to “give it up for Chili Lemon Peanuts” … or Blood Test, it’s hard to tell the difference as his current long, rambling output all sounds like one song.  He resembled Jake LaMotta in his comedian phase – a pale reflection of himself.  A version of AC/DC’s Rock n Roll Singer just about worked, Kozelek holding onto the last note at the end of each chorus for an incredible amount of time.  Newer, unrecorded songs like Linda Blair didn’t fare any better as Kozelek did a blood-curdling appropriation of the aforementioned Exorcist character, roaring into the microphone.  Another new one, My Love For You Is Undying came across as one of the better songs of the night in that it’s actually musical, though he did find time to rhyme “cold as Isis” with “crisis”, and also A Dream of Winter is a half-decent idea, not particularly well-executed.  But mostly we got terrible, groove based sub-Doors crap like Butch Lullaby and, in the encore, House Cat.  He tried a few bars of Whiskey In The Jar, as his band sounded just like every bang average wedding band backing him up.  Not even a rocked up Dogs could save the night.

As if we didn’t already know, the man who wrote many, many sensitive and affecting songs is long gone.  There’s no doubt Mark Kozelek is enjoying doing this kind of thing, having a great time at the expense of his audience.  But there comes a time when enough is enough, and for his long-suffering fans, that time may have arrived.

Setlist –

The Black Butterfly
Blood Test
My Love For You Is Undying
Soap for Joyful Hands
Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer (AC/DC cover)
Linda Blair
Chili Lemon Peanuts
A Dream Of Winter
Butch Lullaby
The Possum
Madrid-Oporto-Heathrow (new song)

House Cat
Whiskey in the Jar
Ceiling Gazing

Categories: Gig Reviews, Gigs, Header, Music

7 replies »

  1. My first time seeing SKM, pretty much expecting the usual “new songs/old songs with 2 or 3 hits in the encore format”, as no doubt were many others. Took me by surprise for sure, and Kozelek does walk a fine line between sincerity and parody. However, I thought the whole evening was great, I don’t think he’s a genius, but I did get the impression this is an artist who is doing something new, and introducing an unpredictability to his live performances that keeps it interesting. I think he made it pretty clear on the night of what he thinks of bands undergoing tours recycling old material, so this may be a new direction he’s taking.

    • Interested to know if you were a fan of his older material first? I think there is a very clear divide in fans, as it is a quite radical change in direction. He has basically alienated a lot of his older fans with this new work. Granted some are enjoying it, but I’d say most are struggling with it. – Ed

  2. i thought last nights show was excellent, the guitarist was one of the finest ive seen in a long time, the bass player played a 5 year old hofner like a 50 year old hofner should be played.. rhodes was great, drummer super.kozelek himself was on form and is a great character. ive been looking forward to this gig for yonks, and i really enjoyed it. as original as it gets y’all. poor review tbh, just following the same old script. im all for moving forward. go mark!

  3. Still prefer his older material, with “Benji” being a real favourite. TBH I don’t know if I would go to another gig of his too soon, but I appreciate and like what he is doing and how he’s doing it. So many other bands/singers, no matter their back catalogue or talent, have a sad and predictable habit of recycling the same sounds and ideas once they get to a certain phase in their career, and that applies to not just the Steely Dan’s and U2’s but also to the Sigur Ros’ , Pixies and Arcade Fires. What many saw as shambolic and rambling last night, was to me an established artist still willing to stick his neck out (sometimes successfully and sometimes not) when he could just as easily sat down and given us “Alesund” and ” carry me Ohio”. While I didn’t get what I wanted from the gig, I liked what I got. Think fans need to give artists like him a break as well, we want them to remain great and golden, just like we did when we heard them first all those years ago, but resent it when they try and admit we are all getting older and maybe need to move on with things.

    • Benji was just about my favourite album of 2014. I think there’s been a massive drop in quality ever since. He doesn’t sing any more and his voice is just about his best asset. His lyrics have become rambling at best. Three albums this year points to a total lack of quality control. I take your point about trying something new but I don’t think it’s working – Ed.

  4. I did not enjoy the show and did not stay for the entire. I’ve rarely walked out of a gig early before so that says something. I still highly rate Mark Kozelek and Sun Kil Moon, they’re obviously just not a band I like live (weird!). April and Benji are my favourite SKM albums, both of which are completely different, so I’m open to anything. I even like Common as Light and Love…, which again has split fans. I just thought he was taking the piss on Tuesday night. He may as well have warbled “and you guys will listen to whatever drivel I spew as ye know I’m a genius and so I can do whatever the F@ck I want on stage and you guys will lap it up”, and I think he may well have said something along those lines in one of his rambling diatribes (and it appeared from the cheers some folk were lapping it up). He then went on to say I’m gonna try something with ye that didn’t work in London last night so here goes. Mark, it didn’t work in Dublin either. I think your review hit the nail on the head. I will continue to listen to, and enjoy, and be inspired by SKM, but I think I will probably skip going to see them live next time.

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