Colston Hall | 16th September
It can often be a struggle deciding where to draw the line between a musician and their output. Mark Kozelek in recent years has made some quite pitiful impressions of himself away from his music, yet there’s no denying that through his early years in Red House Painters and more recently with Sun Kil Moon; the man is an incredible talent.
The live show alongside Jesu at The Lantern makes for a beautifully miserable affair. Far from the average Friday night soundtrack, they present us with powerful live adaptations from the debut joint album which marries spoken word with an emotional ambient backdrop.
At times it’s almost like Kozelek is reciting a personal diary during tracks like ‘Beautiful You’. He recalls dates, memories, thoughts and it’s a sharp portrayal of a menacing mind. You can’t help but think that there’s little music out there drawing parallels to this right now. A rare sense of privilege comes to mind as we witness this live show.
Nearing the end of the set the material takes a strange turn. We’ve already covered lyrical themes from collecting rare vinyl, swimming in the cold waters of LA Bay, but now the pair deal the legacy of Michael Jackson a brutal card. Pacing up and down the stage clutching the microphone with hatred, Kozelek sings, “He’s dead, and to me that ain’t that fuckin’ sad”. In truth there’s absolutely no mercy any subject this show approaches. It bares stark resemblance to the Red House Painters song ‘Down Through’, where he details abuse with the line “I still feel the sting in my hand from when I hit you.”
It’s ultimately a booking that leaves us with a lot of things to mull on, from feelings of struggle and imperfection to the wider picture of what these lyrics mean as a whole. At very least it’s been a honest case study of a man not afraid to speak his mind in the music industry today. Whether that’s a good or bad thing will continue to split opinion in the music industry for a hell of a long time.
Listen to Jesu and Sun Kil Moon’s ‘A Song Of Shadows’ below.