“I’m not much of an England fan,” said Mark Kozelek – aka Sun Kil Moon – near the end of his two and a half hour gig with British musician Jesu at Concorde 2. “But I like Brighton. Beautiful Brighton.” The songwriter was in good form last night, joking with the crowd and acting out a knowing caricature of his reputation as a volatile artist.
“I’ve just come from San Francisco Bay, I don’t want to hear your sad story about getting the train here from London,” he teased one super fan who had attended Sun Kil Moon and Jesu’s gig in the capital on Sunday. There was also a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the English press and a few episodes in which Kozelek read out gushing fan letters.
In his stage persona, Kozelek may be the closest living (relatively mainstream) musician to Lou Reed – magnetic, imposing, with an occasionally sardonic humour underpinning it all. After asking for requests from the crowd he proceeded to dismiss all of them, but, crucially, with a smile and in good humour. Indeed, he had the audience in hoots of laughter fairly often, and once inadvertently, when he mispronounced Brexit as “Brexton.”
As ever, Kozelek’s lyrics skilfully merged the universal with the personal, witnessed in the first song of the evening which started with the singer musing on this week’s terror attacks in New York and ended in him eulogising about Brighton. The reflective Exodus saw Kozelek recalling his devastation at the passing of Nick Cave’s son Arthur last year, before a highly moving final refrain: ‘for all bereaved parents, I send you my love.’ At other points he built up such a head of steam that his monologues resembled raps – hard-hitting and supremely tight.
Joined on stage by three musicians, including Justin Broadrick, or Jesu, playing the eight-string guitar, Kozelek played the role of spoken word poet, wandering around the stage and consulting a lyric sheet (“I’ve got 200 songs, I can’t remember them all”). Broadrick’s diverse guitar stylings took centre stage musically, as the delicate, slow-building fretwork of the first few songs gave way to the heavy ‘wall of sound’ approach of Good Morning My Love and A Song of Shadows from the pair’s joint record this year.
Remarkably in such a long set there was no real lull. Jesu’s dynamic musicianship and Kozelek’s unique lyrical approach remained captivating right up to the 11pm curfew. Sublime.