Bootlegs: Sufjan Stevens, Solo – 11.19.03, Judson College, IL

Photo by David Greenwald

Most know Sufjan Stevens for his arrangements, for the pomp and circumstance of horns and strings and Illinoisemakers that fill his songs to bursting. Even his most spare acoustic tracks — as demonstrated by the “acoustic” version of “Chicago” on the recent The Avalanche — are still wrapped up in flourishes. Things weren’t always this way, however, and before he was a successful indie idol, Stevens was a folk singer just like anyone else.

This performance, from Judson College in 2003, captures Stevens at his most beautiful: alone, acoustic and emotive (and in his introduction to “Opie’s Funeral Song,” nervous and endearing. Imagine that!). He plays songs from Michigan and the then-forthcoming Seven Swans, but there are also a few rarities — not to mention R.E.M. and Innocence Mission covers.

Sufjan Stevens – 11.19.03, Judson College, Illinois

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1. Sufjan Stevens – “The One I Love” (R.E.M. cover)
2. Sufjan Stevens – “Opie’s Funeral Song”
3. Sufjan Stevens – “The Upper Peninsula”
4. Sufjan Stevens – “Sister”
5. Sufjan Stevens – “Borderline”
6. Sufjan Stevens – “Lakes Of Canada” (Innocence Mission cover)
7. Sufjan Stevens – “You Are The Rake”:
8. Sufjan Stevens – “Vito’s Ordination Song”
9. Sufjan Stevens – “(The Vision Of) The Seven Swans”


Live Recordings is a column devoted to live, legal concert bootlegs.