Aug 3, 2008

Sigur Ros @ Hordern Pavilion

'tju tju' sang the singer. Slowly, longingly, hauntingly, beautifully. The words hung like silken vespers in the night. Drifting quietly toward us. We breathed it in, sighed and waited for more. So began a journey with Sigur Ros at the Hordern Pavilion last night. My first time with the mysterious Icelanders was a night to remember. "Svefn-g-englar" was a perfect starter, Jonsi Birgisson's ethereal voice stretching itself to almost impossible limits. When he held and held that last note we held our breath too, before exhaling gleefully when it was over. To follow that song with the equally beautiful "Glósóli" was a masterstroke, its supreme grace setting the scene for a night of joy and unequivocal beauty. Somehow this band also managed to overcome the venue's shortcomings. A venue devoid of soul, although admittedly one with good sound and lighting.

So, this band. I have to admit I have never been a massive fan. Sure, I own some of their catalogue, but I have never been a slave to their music. I guess I have found it a little too ethereal at times and on record, Jonsi's vocals lacked a certain strength to my liking. However, I actually think their latest album is their best (maybe I am wrong here), because I believe it is their most vital and full blooded. And I have heard their live performances are ones to remember. So it proved. The mixture of older numbers and newer songs seemed perfectly balanced. The set flowed with obvious ease, going from still beauty to raw power with barely a note missed. I loved " Sé Lest" and " Sæglópur", but my absolute favourites turned out to be the newer ones. Standout without doubt was "Festival". This magical song grew from a quiet whisper to a blinding fury, dazzling us along the way. Others to love were the achingly tender "Fljótavík", the uplifting " Við spilum endalaust", the riotous " Inní mér syngur vitleysingur" and of course the show stopping "Gobbledigook" which was a sure fire creator of smiles. If you didn't smile through this then I suspect you were either asleep or perhaps dead. The explosion of confetti into the crowd just cemented the night of joy. After a swift break the band returned to play "Popplagið", a song I didn't know, but was blown away by as it extended into a twenty minute epic of raw explosive power. The band left, returned for bows, left again and then returned for one number, before disappearing into the night.

I was hoping this night would be unique and great. And it was, a show hard to compare to many others. Their music has a different effect then most other bands. It doesn't contain singalong choruses or those key changes that cause the heart to skip a beat. The singer doesn't prowl the stage, pouring his heart out. Rather the music quietly wraps itself around you, then reveals subtle little layers that bloom and burst forth, transporting you some far distant land. Obviously these men are superb musicians, swapping instruments through out and creating special sounds at regular intervals. They were also augmented by a four piece brass section, which added a carnival touch to the night. A night of resplendent exquisiteness. A night to treasure.

Set List (courtesy of Sean, who has his report here)
Sé Lest
Ný batterí
Við spilum endalaust
Með Blóðnasir
Inní mér syngur vitleysingur


All Alright

I have some more photos of the night at my Flickr.


  • At August 03, 2008 , Anonymous Sean said...

    Popplagio is probably generally referred to as Untitled 8, the last track off the ( ) album. It's one of my favourite songs ever.

    We had a look around for you at the gig but didn't find ya!


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