04 August, 2005

við vorum sammála um það sammála um flesta hluti

Last night Ms Snazzles and I saw Sigur Rós, live in concert at Hamer Hall. Hurray! Hurrah! Huzzah!

We met at the Forum bar, had a quick dinner at Kim Sing and found our way to the Concert Hall, among a vast crowd of attractive and intriguing alternative types, all flocking to the opportunity of seeing one of the most unique and brilliant bands in the world.

The first support act was Australian singer-songwriter Iota, who performed an accomplished but - to be honest - somewhat unremarkable set. He was followed by the amazing Amina. These four stunning Icelandic ladies formed the string section for Sigur Rós's ( ) album, and have gone on to become a dazzling band in their own right. As well as their beautifully concocted string arrangements, they have a literal table of tricks including children's music-boxes, a series of glasses of water, various xylophones and keyboards, and an instrument unknown to me, which resembles a very small harp laid flat on the table, but with horizontal strings rather than vertical. While the Sigur Rós influence is plainly audible in their sound, they truly are an act all of their own.

And at last, emerging in showdows and smoke behind a muslin curtain, the main attraction took the stage.
Lead singer Jón þór Birgisson ("Jónsi") - although the band's oldest member at 30 years old - resembles a pubescent creature from outer-space, an other-worldly man-child sawing at his electric guitar with a cello bow and emanating his ethereal wails like a call to the heavens. Georg "Goggi" Hólm and Orri Páll Dýrason form an inventive and brilliant rhythm section, Goggi occasionally attacking his bass with a drum-stick, and Orri defying all the rules of conventional rhythm in his percussion work. Meanwhile Kjartan "Kjarri" Sveinsson - probably the band's most accomplished musician, responsible for all their glorious string arrangements - rules the keyboards and additional guitars like a quiet God.

There's little that can be said about Sigur Rós in concert. You've all heard me gush my guts out about how much I love their recordings, and the visceral immediacy of hearing and watching them in concert was an amazing experience. Accompanied by Amina's gorgeous strings, the band performed much-beloved tracks from their Agætis Byrjun and ( ) records, as well as some from the lesser known first release Von and the forthcoming album Takk. Needless to say, there's one little munkey who's very much looking forward to that particular release.

Sitting in awe amongst the sold-out crowd, I was riding every moment from the tender whisperings of gentle harmony, to the explosive outpourings of perfectly symbiotic sound. All time and space outside the auditorium seemed to fade to irrelevance as Sigur Rós unleashed their torrents of aural majesty. I almost felt like I could ascend to the realm of the music, and live as a creature of light and sound in a place beyond the tangible troubles of the everday world.

Clockwise: Amina on strings; Kjarri on piano, keyboards, guitar & flute; Jónsi on vocals, guitar & synth; Goggi on bass & xylophone, and Orri on drums & keyboards.


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