You would have to be a real Scrooge to not get a kick out of Sufjan Stevens’s spectacular holiday show that came through town last night. Playing to a sold out audience at the Beachland, Stevens held nothing back for the concert he dubbed “The Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice.” A tinsel curtain flanked the stage and Stevens set up all kinds of kitschy Christmas plastic elves on the stage, which looked like it was created for a high school musical. He installed his own blinding light show and stationed a giant “Wheel of Christmas” on the dance floor. Throughout the two-hour show, he’d invite an audience member to spin the thing and it would land on a variety of yuletide favorites that the band would then perform. He was so adamant the audience sing-a-long, he handed out pamphlets with lyrics prior to the show’s start. Stevens and his large band capably sang classics like “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” and “Jingle Bells,” the latter of which benefited from tuba and tambourine.
Early in the set, Stevens admitted he used to hate Christmas. He then told a story about how his parents had been “tree huggers” who told him he must atone for violating nature by cutting down a tree. You don’t have to be a psychologist to see that Stevens is overcompensating for his troubled childhood. Sure, he still has a portion of the show dedicated to the “seasonal affective disorder” (the cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” certainly fits the bill) but uptempo songs such as a glittering, electro rendition of “Do You See What I See” and a foot stomping take on “Holly Jolly Christmas” offset the sometimes somber ballads (of which there were many) and turned the show into one helluva good time. The grand finale was definitely worth sticking around for as Stevens put on a colorful outfit of balloons and scarves as he leaped about the stage and sang about a “Christmas unicorn.”