Sun Kil Moon @ Birmingham Barfly – 12th September 2008


On arriving at the Barfly all were informed that the band was not permitting any photography including mobile phones and our own BrumLive photographer. Original support for tonight’s show pulled out so Brit, Peter Haywood was drafted in last minute to do a half hour set. He gave a bluesy indie performance, alternating between strumming and picking on his acoustic guitar. His song ‘wasted time’ demonstrating his talent. His set was a little disorganised as he started a song before changing his mind as he thought he’d been too melancholic so far. Instead he opted to play a small part of Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Personal Jesus’ before playing his own version called ‘Noah’s arc’. Overall he was a pleasant performer to watch and his songs are melodic. Although he lacks a little in emotion that would’ve given a more powerful performance, his vocals are strong.

There was a polite cheer from the small mature crowd that congregated at the front of the stage as Sun Kil Moon made their appearance. A few people hushed the crowd until all waited in silence, an eager anticipation in the air. Front man Mark Kozelek’s haunting voice rang out and all listened intently as they played a set list comprising mainly of new material off new album ‘April’. Their second song ‘Last Tide’ had a gradual build up of emotion and power that captivated most. However, this intensity whittled as each song rolled into each other, offering little variety. For the obvious fans at the front, there was a respectful attention paid to these talented musicians. For those at the back, many were chatting to each other, staring into space and generally treating it as background music, not grabbing their attention at all. Long instrumentals and monotonous vocals blended, with no song really standing out. A technical problem gave a break from the melancholy as the band went off stage for several minutes until the microphone was fixed.

Kozelek’s voice contains a lot of emotion as he sings about loss on all levels. However the goose pimples that were expected by the sound of this indie-folk band just did not appear. The stories were lost as it was difficult to understand the lyrics due to Kozelek’s diction being quite unclear. With quite depressing songs full of angst, Sun Kil Moon has a small following that kept engrossed in the music from start to finish. hey politely cheered and applauded every song and fully appreciated the intricate guitar picking and layered drums and guitars that created a pleasant sound. However for those with little or no knowledge of their music, they may have found themselves lost and left a little isolated by non-catchy music that on first listening was never going to really captivate them.

Review – Karen Trenbirth

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