And so it goes…

Árstíðir – Fríkirkjan, Reykjavík; December 27th, 2019

So here I was again at Frikirkjan in Reykjavik for Árstíðir’s annual Christmas concert. It has been my personal Christmas tradition since 2013 and no matter how often and for what reasons I thought “this is probably going to be the last one” it never is. Somehow I always get pulled back and each time I walk away richer in one way or another, not in money, but things that really matter: experiences and emotions. This year I walked away really happy – the concert marked the end of a wonderful year with the band that took me back to the beginning and was all about finding balance. Everything goes in circles and being in this fandom is no exceptions. I’ve had some great times with these guys and some not so great ones. In the end it all comes down to for their music, the people they have brought into my life and the places I would have never visited without them. It’s been an amazing ride so far and I am deeply grateful to have been part of it.

In winter I never trust the weather and fear delayed or canceled flights so I arrived a day early. Funnily enough I have only had delays flying to Iceland in summer so far. Anyway, I had a whole day to myself and spent it relaxing, because the weather was shitty. At least swimming works in the rain too. 😉 On concert day I arrived at the venue an hour before the doors opened and walked around until C. arrived. We spent time catching up and didn’t even feel cold until just before they let us in. I got my usual seat at the front, the same one I have sat in at every Christmas concert so far, with C. by my side. Slowly, more people filed in and I saw a few familiar faces. I was ready for the show and after the break I had a good feeling about this one.

They started shortly after 9 pm, standing in the middle of the room, singing ‘Hjá lygnri móðu’, a Christmas song I had never heard them perform before. For the bass voice, they had Pétur, a trained classical singer. He joined them for all the a cappella songs this night and it sounded marvelous. After this one, they moved to the stage, Pétur left and they were joined by Sigrun and Unnur on strings. The sound was perfect, even louder than usual and just seeing them made me smile. This church carries so many memories for me that it feels wrong not to be there somewhere around Christmas to see this band perform. Not all of these memories are happy ones, but right then and there I felt nothing but love as I listened to their music and let it carry me away. I felt all of it and despite the melancholia and drama in some of the songs it made me feel calm.

‘Ljóð í sand’  is a song that has been with me from the beginning, i.e. I have heard it at pretty much every concert I have been to. There were times when I grew tired of it, but currently it somehow feels new again and I really loved it that night. It’s like returning to an old friend you are perfectly comfortable around. Unnur and Sigrun were doing a great job with the songs too and while I am used to Guillaume and Jean-Samuel playing, they sounded just as good.  From time to time I looked over at C., who seemed like she was totally lost in the music. I felt it too, letting go of all other thoughts while listening.

‘Passion’ reminded me of the first time I’d heard it. right there at that church, sitting in the same seat. We’ve come a long way since and the song sure doesn’t sound the same any more. Still like it a lot though. ‘Circus’ was brilliant, even better than when I’d last heard it. It’s one of those songs that I’ve always loved, even though I am not entirely sure what it is about. It speaks to me in some way, I’ve just not yet decoded what it is saying. 😉 After that, Pétur was back on stage for ‘Bæn einstæðingsins’ and it was beautiful. I noticed that thy had divided the parts differently, because they now had four voices to chose from. 🙂

The guys talked a little about the first album and the tenth anniversary. Of course they did it in Icelandic of which I only understood bits and pieces because I had a pretty good idea what they were saying. Daníel’s home brewed wine was mentioned for sure. It was time for the band to gather around the central mic for ‘Ages’. It struck a chord with me that night, reminding me of some not so happy times in my youth and making me choke up for a bit. The first album has a special place in my heart so I love this part of the concert very much. I also enjoy how it mostly alternates between the first and the last album with a few other songs thrown in between those two. Remembering a story about playing ‘Kill us’ at their first ever Christmas concert and getting hell for, I wondered for a moment if they’d play it, but of course they did. Of all the incarnations this song has been through and all the versions I have heard, this one might be my favorite.

For ‘Heiðin’ they all returned to their own mics, singing beautifully and then it was time for ‘Síðasta kveðjan’ of course. I had been waiting to hear the song at this church and I was nervous for them, because I knew that Sigrun and Unnur had never performed it. The song was gorgeous – I had to close my eyes, because I could not bear all the emotions it brought up. strangely though, I did not cry, even though I could feel the tears being close. It just made me too happy and I had a smile on my face the entire time. It grew even wider when Gunnar let out a sigh of relief once the song was over. Awww. <3

This time, they did not take a break and of course Corelli’s ‘La Follia’ was not played. They also dropped ‘Oroi’ from the set and continued with ‘Jólin alls staðar’ instead, once again sung by Daníel and Gunnar. Ragnar joined them at the mic for ‘Hin fyrstu jól’, bringing the small keyboard. Now it felt like a Christmas concert, being a good mix of Christmassy songs and other ones. For ‘Heyr himna smiður’ Pétur was back. Having him sing with them was a good decision. I really loved it.

‘Nú gleymist ég’ led the way back to songs from Nivalis and like all the other songs that night it was perfect. they seemed so at ease with the songs and performed them flawlessly. Everything about the concert was breathtaking. After not being so sure I even wanted to come back I was so glad I went. The tour is the tour and it was amazing, especially in the end when they had perfected the performance. Yet reykjavik is their homecoming and it needs to be celebrated. No matter when that Christmas concert happens, it is always something to look forwardto and it remains special. 🙂

I have really fallen in loved with ‘Mute’ onthis tour and loved every moment of it. I also really felt the subwoofer during the song – wow! Strangely I expected ‘While this Way’ next and forgot all about ‘Things you said’ until they started playing it. Somewhere in-between they had talked about the Independent Music Award they won and at on point people laughed a lot, but I can only guess why. It never bothers me though. Somehow not understanding what they say was always part of the deal.

‘While this Way’ then summed up all my emotions right there and for the first time that night I was actually close to tears. So many memories flooded me, all connected through the song all interwoven with these words that feel as if they were written for me. <3 Earlier I had not seen the drums by the side of the stage and was so happy when Daníel got them out for ‘Shades’ – I#d been looking forward to seeing him drum. The song was powerful as ever, they guys being really into it. They left the stage to great cheers and standing ovations.

C. had just said she wondered how long they would make us wait when the band was back on stage already. I had hoped they would keep the encoresa they did, treating us to a wonderful version of ‘And do it goes’. I love that song and especially like what they make of it. Sometimes it makes me really sad, but this night it made me happy, once againm me realize how everything goes in circles and my relationship with this band certainly has. All was well. 😀 in the very end, the guys walked back to the place they had started the show for ‘ Góda veslu göra skal’ – the perfect ending to the night. A few final bows with everyone and the show was over.

Many people filed out, but some stayed to say hello or buy CDs and vinyls. I had a brief chat with each of the guys, told them I’d liked the show and wished them a happy new year. Then it was time to say goodbye. One final hug from Ragnar and thus ended the last concert of the year. Soon, C. said goodbye as well and I walked home, thinking back on a beautiful concert year. It was only the next morning that post tour blurs hit me and I had a good cry. That is the way it is after truly great gigs and that is how it should be. Thank you for everything guys, see you next year! <3

Setlist

Hjá lygnri móðu
Ljóð í sand
Passion
Circus
Bæn einstæðingsins
Ages
Kill Us
Heiðin
Síðasta kveðjan
Jólin alls staðar
Hin fyrstu jól
Heyr himna smiður
Nú gleymist ég
Mute
Things You Said
While This Way
Shades

Encore:
And so it goes
Góda veslu göra skal

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Goodbye to Nosturi, polaroids and my last gig of the tour

Poets of the Fall – Nosturi, Helsinki; December 20th, 2019

I’ve alway thought of Poets of the Fall’s last concert in Helsinki in December as their Christmas show, no matter if they did anything christmassy or not. So when they did not play any December gig last year, something was missing and I felt all the happier seeing them announce one for this year. Never mind there was going to be one in Himos the following day – this was it, my last Poets of the Fall show for this year and even this decade. it was a beautiful, happy, fun show and a fitting goodbye to Nosturi, the venue that is going to close at the end of this year. I’m glad I got to be there to witness this.

After a brief stop at my mom’s place to drop of my suitcase (since I won’t be going home again until next year), I was on my way to Berlin airport to fly to Helsinki. everything went smoothly, I arrived in the evening and took a bus go my fiend K.’s new place. After a brief hello we went straight to bed, since she had to work the next morning. On show day, I relaxed on her couch with the cats until she came home, chatted for a bit and then set of to the venue to see if anyone was already there. A handful of people greeted me, two familiar faces amongst them. Funnily enough there was only one Finn yet, three Germans, one French, one Ukranian (I think) and a few Russians. We talked, we had a good time, P. was taking polaroid pictures and even got to say hello to some of the band members. Tiia came and I handed over my band and crew presents (home made chocolates instead of cookies this time). More people arrived, including K., but we did not see any other familiar faces.

Knowing the drill with the coat check, we prepared in advance and stood in the cold without our jackets for a few minutes. Luckily the doors opened on time. K. handed in the jackets as I went upstair. Funnily enough, Jani was in the way, walking slowly upstairs, so busy with his phone he didn’t even notice the doors had open until I made a joke about him blocking the way. I scored two front row spots for us and we settled down for more waiting. Nosturi carries good memories, because my second ever Poets show (and my first one in Finland) took place there. K. and I started reminiscing about it. I wondered if they’d do something Christmas-related or just make it a regular show – wait and see. There were still two hours to go until the concert and after the first rsh, the place only filled slowly. I still didn’t see any familiar faces until just before the show when R. appeared with his camera.

It might have been my imagination, but the start of the intro seemed different – it sounded like a sleigh riding by, before the actual intro started. Hm, Christmas show after all? It remained the only thing, but was a very nice touch. Then the usual hypnotic drums, designed to clap along and “whatever you do…..” – K. next to me was radiating happiness. she’d said she wanted to stop at 100 shows and I’d dragged her along to this one. A good decision. 🙂 “…don’t scream” – yeah, right! 😀 As the guys walked out one by one we screamed some more and finally Marko held out the mic towards us for those who did not get the memo. 😉

I loved it from the start, happy to be there, happy to have K. by my side and fully into the songs. Just as I sang “’cause I can’t let you go!” Olli looked at me and smiled. It is true, I can’t, but why would I want to let go of something this amazing and wonderful? Most of the guys smiled at me at one point during the show or another and yes, I got sung to as well. <3 I felt very much alive right then and there, forgetting the world outside for a while. Despite sbeing somewhat crammed in front row, I managed to jump for ‘Locking up the Sun’, even whileK. and I were turning back time with our hands in unison. I don’t think anyone else did, but for me this is so much part of the song that it would feel weird not to.

My camera was safely at home and my mobile in the back pocket of my jeans, so I was mostly too slow in digging it out whenever an interesting moment happened. Taking pictures with my mind works just as well and I loved the freedom of movement I gained from not having a heavy camera around my neck or slung over my shoulder. Doing my best to watch all f the guys equally and to see all their non verbal communication, I am still sure I didn’t spot half of it. So much happens at the same time. It doesn’t matter though, no matter who my eyes followed, it was a joy watching them play their hearts out and look happy doing it. Whenever I checked on K. by my side or my new friends from the queue they all had the same happy look on their faces too. All was well, this is what a Poets of the Fall show feels like.

‘False Kings’ was a killer – it is such an amazing song I just cannot get enough of and I love seeing the guys getting into the grove, especially olli and captain underlining the bass at the starts with their hands (if you’ve seen it, there is an image on your mind now, if you haven’t, I don#t know how to describe it to you). Funnily enough I had somehow forgotten the song was in the set and expected ‘Temple of Thought’ already. That one was next and brilliant as ever. 🙂 For the start of ‘Rogue’, Marko got us all to clap along and then left while we watched the rest of the band. So many interactions happened like Jani throwing hearts towards Glen or Olli and Jaska nodding to each other from opposite ends of the stage before going into full guitar hero mode. Captain was in his own zone, smiling happily and only Jari remained mostly invisible in artificial fog.

‘The Sweet Escape’ brought out all the phone lights and for ‘My Dark Disquiet’ dancing shoes might have been useful. It’s always a fun song. Things got calmer for ‘In a Perfect World’ and I almost got all the lyrics down now so when Marko sang to me I could sing along. 🙂 There is a nice picture of me on Olli’s Instagram, hand over my heart, singing along with my eyes closed. I like to think this happened during ‘War’, but I have no idea if it’s true. What is do know is that Jani and Marko were standing in the back, hugging tightly during Jaska’s solo. Awww!

‘Daze’ had us sing along and for ‘Choice Millionaire’ we didn’t only bounce, but enough of us did the arms up and down movement with the guys that Jaska gave us a thumbs up. He also did a lot of pointing back and forth with Glen. If someone had told me I’d enjoy that song when I heard it for the first time, I would not have believed it. These days it is one of the most fun songs at any gig. 😀 The set ended with ‘Late Goodbye’ already and the audience made a pretty decent choir. Someone to my right held out a teddy bear for Marko and he gladly accepted it, blowing a kiss in return.

The encores were wild and a lot of fun. Somewhere along the way, while Olli was standing in the back on the keyboard raiser, Jani thrust the neck of his bass repeatedly between Olli’s legs. I started laughing, looked at K. and mouthed “What the fuck?” Marko saw me, probably wondered what was going on behind his back, but instead of looking, did some goofy dancing, drawing all attention back to him. 😀 During ‘Lift’, Marko’s mic failed at the begoinning and the first line got completely lost. K. was just saying “That ain’t right” when the sound came back. Meanwhile Jani decide to climb the high speaker on the side of the stage and looked like he was going to lose balance so Glen rushed over there to help. Once up there, he stood above our heads for the rest of the song.

‘Carnival of Rust’ then brought the show to a close and for a moment I considered filming it, because it had been one of two songs I filed at my first Poets gig here. In the end I just enjoyed, unable to keep the smile off of my face. How can one band be so good? Afterwards they said goodbye, bowed, waved and wished us a merry Christmas. Jani kissed Marko on the cheek and in turn Captain lifted him up. There was a lot of hugging going on too and of course one final picture.

We all agreed that it had been a great gig and headed to the bar in the back for a drink. On the way I met a few familiar people and got some hugs. P. invited us for a Salmiakki (yummy!) and eventually we made it downstairs to get our coats and check out the merch. They had old T-Shirts on special offer, but I had all those. There was one ‘False Kings’ shirt left that K. and I both had set our eyes on. It fit her a lot better than me though and I gladly left it to her. Jari walked out and said goodbye, Jaska headed to the downstairs bar and some of us considered asking him for a picture. Meanwhile I met S., whom I had not seen in a while and we reconnected, hugging for a long time. Finally outside, we saw Olli and he stayed for a polaroid with all of us. I learned he’d been sick after Dublin – so sorry to hear. The crew was packing and Marko H. thanked me for the chocolates. Soon after we all left and went for one more drink at a nearby bar. It was a lovely ending to the night. To be continued next year….

Setlist

Dreaming wide awake
Locking up the Sun
False Kings
Temple of Thought
Rogue
The Sweet Escape
My Dark Disquiet
In a perfect World
War
Daze
Choice Millionaire
Late Goodbye

Diamonds for Tears
Lift
Carnival of Rust

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