After a day of relentless heat and humidity, the refreshing rain proved to be the perfect setting for Sigur Ros’ final show of the year. Perhaps out of place, they were one of the only international bands playing at the Urbanscapes festival, which from the outset appeared to be dominated by urban acts. Many of their fans in the audience had travelled from all over the country (and even further) to see them.
As the band came on stage to pick up their instruments, I felt I could finally stop holding my breath. The glockenspiel’s ethereal tune revealed an unanticipated beauty as they launched into the staple opener for this year’s tour, I Gaer, from 2004 album Hvarf-Heim with Jonsi’s distinctive voice overlaying the band. The backing brass, strings and choir worked well in adapting Sigur Ros’ epic songs for a live setting. And it was smiles all around for the band – especially Jonsi’s delight hearing the audience enthusiastically singing along to Med Bloonasir without any prompting.
Each sound that emanated from the stage seemed to be played in a meticulous fashion. As I was standing closer to the left side of the stage, I got a really good view of Orri, who played the drums with conviction – especially during Brennistein, introduced as a new song which had not yet been recorded. It was drastically different to the more ambient Sigur Ros sound in recent years. If similar to anything they’d done before, it would be the more post-rock sound of Von. The harsh, almost metal sound of the guitar and drums contrasted so well with the vocals.
This was followed by Varud, the only song from Valtari to be played. It sounded more beautiful than on the album, with the live strings and choir which really brought out the dynamics of the album, especially as the song reached its climax. Their final song for the evening was Popplagid, from ( ). Also used as the closer for the 2008 tour, it was still amazing to be in the moment as they slowly built up the song, as the stage lights flickered with the drum beats. The whole experience was quite visceral. At times I felt as though they had captured and held the audience’s attention effortlessly – both sonically and visually, the background landscapes and patterns moving in sync with the music.