Bathed in an ethereal blue light, Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek enthrals a hushed audience of 350 people in the snug surroundings of Glasgow’s SWG3 venue.
He stands beating a snare drum in time as his two cohorts on electric guitar and keyboards provide relatively modest backing. Modest but apt, since even though he will later demonstrate his virtuoso guitar picking, his huge sounding voice is the star of the show.
Focussing heavily on newer material, particularly from this year’s ‘Benji’ album, an occasionally grumpy but for the most part good humoured Kozelek will play for three hours. Much of that time consists of songs like ‘Carissa’ and the powerful ‘I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love’ delivered in devotional style, to an audience mesmerised until each performance’s end triggers an eruption of applause.
And yet, there are several bizarre moments, such as when a randomly selected audience member is drafted onstage to perform a duet of Sonny & Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe,’ and Kozelek’s extended monologues on such subjects as the band that would make him want to “shoot (him)self in the balls” (I’m sure Arab Strap will get over it, somehow). Later, a second fan joins the band onstage to play drums for much of the set and is suitably feted by his Glasgow peers and Kozelek himself.
Then there is the utterly passionate rendition of recent feud song, ‘War on Drugs: Suck My Cock’. Despite the presumably mainly tongue-in-cheek humour (and putting aside any surely unintended, mildly antisocial undertones as Kozelek bellows such lines as “whitest band I’ve ever seen!”) it is delivered with as much commitment and is as well received as any other song on the night. Which incidentally include a clutch of seasonal standards including ‘Little Drummer Boy,’ and ‘The Christmas Song,’ delivered entirely unironically.
By the end, the long set-time hasn’t diminished the band’s appeal to the vast majority of the audience some of whom stop mid-exit to hear the unexpected two-song encore. Kozelek performs these while flagrantly breaking the local laws like only a rock star can by lighting a cigarette. He then praises the crowd and commends their sense of humour, bringing a semi-weird but mainly stunning night, to a close.