Red House Painters’ first album, Down Colorful Hill, came out 20 years ago last month, and over the last two decades, the band’s mastermind, Mark Kozelek, has produced a catalog of staggering power under a host of monikers, including his own, Desertshore, and most famously, Sun Kil Moon. (I’d argue that his name should be included in any conversation of the era’s best songwriters.) Remarkably though, last night was the first time he ever performed live on television. Appearing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Kozelek was joined by the Roots — which is notable because his live shows for the last decade have been almost exclusively solo affairs. The pairing produced remarkable results. They delivered a breathtaking version of “The Moderately Talented Young Woman” (from Sun Kil Moon’s 2012 release Among The Leaves) for the broadcast, and then, teamed up on a rendition of Red House Painters’ classic “Mistress” (from the band’s self-titled 1993 “Rollercoaster” LP) for a web extra. I’ve seen Kozelek a dozen times in a handful of incarnations, and I’ve heard a dozen more recorded live sets from him, and I’ve never heard a version of “Mistress” truer to the original, or more powerful. The Roots are a great band, of course, so it’s hardly surprising that they raise Kozelek’s game a notch or two, but as a longtime fan, I was blown away by these performances. Essential viewing.
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