Chasing away the ghosts of the past

Árstíðir – Rockhouse, Salzburg; February 19th, 2019

I have great, if somewhat hazy memories of the last last time Árstíðir played in Salzburg. Not so much of the concert as such, that was weird in a sense of the venue being a bit strange. The people there were really unfriendly to the audience and the band alike. It was a pretty full house though and I shot one of my best ever band picture there. I don’t remember much else about it other than being really sad for reason and not wanting to go out. I was convinced otherwise though and it was an amazing night with great conversations, none of which I can recall. 😉

Now the guys were back, at a different place this time. It was just a short trip from Munich so I actually got the chance to see a little bit of the city. Salzburg greeted me with beautiful weather too and I had an enjoyable walk. After some food I arrived at the venue – too early as usual. Waited a while, saw most of the guys and said hello, then found out the bar was already open and got myself a drink. Everyone there was really friendly. I liked it already.

Slowly more people arrived and I chatted with someone next to me. Nobody knew when the concert was going to start. Jean-Samuel was still sitting at the bar and Ragnar was outside talking, but around 8:30 they made their way backstage and soon the band walked out. At that moment people came closer and suddenly the room felt crowded. They kept a respectful distance from the stage though. Even I did, because I was trying to film the whole thing.

When Árstíðir started playing, I noticed it was a lot louder than usual and momentarily considered wearing my earplugs. This was a bar audience though so the higher volume seemed fitting and the sound was clear. Once again I had brought my camera and this time I felt the different. Instead of being one with the music like I had been the previous night, I became a spectator, observing everything. It worked though, I enjoyed it very much.

The audience was a mixed bunch from metal heads to other fans of the band to people who were just there because the came every Monday night, for the regular Blues sessions that usually happen then. Either way, they liked it and mostly listened, even if there was more chatter than usual. Somehow the first half of the show went by really quickly. Might have been that the guys talked less or maybe my sense of time was just off. It is all a bit of a blur right now and I cannot remember anything specific other than wondering how we got from ‘While this Way’ to ‘Shades’ so quickly.

During the break people dispersed quickly, got more drinks and went outside. They were back when the guys reappeared, but they kept talking, not realizing the band was about to start until Daníel asked them to be quiet. He did it very nicely and after a few moments it got quiet enough for them to play. It sounded beautifully and once people realized what they were doing, they actually listened too and appreciated it. 🙂 This was not the easiest audience one could have, but I had the feeling the guys won them over quickly.

Filming worked nicely except for that couple who decided to move over to the far left side and instead of standing still kept moving into the frame of m camera, no matter what I did. Shout out of thanks to the really nice metal guy who did the same at the start of the show, but was so considerate and moved for me. 🙂 Before ‘Entangled’ Ragnar asked if we knew what “Nivalis” meant and when someone answered “yes” he replied “then I have nothing to say” – touché. He explained it anyway though. 😉 When Gunnar presented the ‘Friðþægingin’ challange, someone behind me said “Try to say” followed by something unpronounceable in Austrian. It wasn’t loud enough though and the band didn’t hear it. Gunnar added it was just about as difficult as ‘umferðaröngþveiti’ and that people were getting close to pronouncing it right. The performance of the song was brilliant!

Too quickly we moved past the wonderful ‘Himinhvel’ and the rocking ‘things you said’ to ‘Passion’. Really, where did time go that night? It seemed to have moved much faster than it usually does. Loved all of the songs, but can’t remember many of the stories told. What I do remember is Ragnar mentioning that he learned drinking in Salzburg when he was there to learn German as a teenager. 😀 Of course Passion’ was not he last song and they came back for us. With this audience I figured they would not do ‘Góda veslu göra skal’ and I was right, but we did get ‘Nú gleymist ég’. I don’t think I will ever get tired of that song. 🙂

It was a good show and I told the band afterwards. Had a few words with everyone, hugged, reminisced about the last time we were in Salzburg with Gunnar, said goodbye, then stayed a bit still and joked about drunken nights on tour with Jean-Samuel and Guillaume. 🙂 Happily I went home for another night of too little sleep and happy memories to add to my collection.

Setlist

While this Way
Lover
Please Help me
Vetur að vori
Ljóð í sand
In the Wake of You
Mute
Þar sem enginn fer
Shades

acoustic set:
Sunday Morning
Kill Us

Entangled
Like Snow
Friðþægingin
Himinhvel
Things You Said
Passion

Nú gleymist ég

Nivalis winter tour: 11 gigs down, 7 to go. Next stop: Krakow

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Everything starting to drift away with no looking back

Árstíðir – Zehner, Munich; February 17th, 2019

There is no denying it, I love being on tour. And I do not mean going away for a few concerts on the weekend and being back to work by Monday morning. That is lots of fun too, but what I am referring to is actually touring with a band as in following them from cit to city for a week or so, moving onwards every morning, staying in a different place every night and eventually forgetting where you are or which day of the week it might be. I remember, many years ago my friends and I were watching a Bon Jovi tour documentary and there was a scene where one of the band members wondered where they were at another answered “It’s Tuesday, we must be in Paris” or something along those lines. I laughed hard, because it seemed absurd to me that anyone could forget where they are. Little did I know that I’d be in the same situation further on up the road.

Not today though. I know perfectly well that I am in Munich and my train to Salzburg will leave in about one hour. What I am trying to say here is that I’ve missed touring with a band I love, specifically touring with Árstíðir. Can’t complain about not seeing any concerts. Anyone who reads this blog knows I’ve seen plenty, but it feels like years since I’ve actually been on the road with them. Last time was in May of 2016, almost three years ago and they were a different band, we were different people then. A lot of water has flowed down the Rhine or the Mississippi since, many things have happened, not all of them good ones, but we are still here and somehow it’s all good. I’ve loved this band from the start, but things were off balance for a while and for personal reasons loving them didn’t come so easy any more. I had faith though, firmly believing that ‘Sunday Morning’ is right. When I started following Árstíðir all those years ago, they gave me a sense of home. I knew in my heart I was going to be in this for life and now, almost seven years down the road, after a few unexpected turns I have arrived in a place where I feel comfortable in this home again. I am deeply grateful for the music, the memories, the friendship, the great conversations, all the hugs and smiles and the adventures we’ve had. Here’s to another seven years or another seventy! <3

The concert you ask? it was wonderful on every level. I smiled like a loon and I very nearly cried. I felt the music with every fiber of my being. Since the start of this tour the concerts have continuously been getting better and by now the band really has the setlist down. Thus, when they find a venue with a good sound engineer and meet and a responsive audience, it is going to be great and Munich met all these conditions.

Getting to Munich was a relaxed 3 hour bus ride. We arrived before schedule, I quickly checked in to my hotel, got ready and took a walk through the beautiful sunny afternoon to meet with L. before the show. We had dinner (nothing to write home about) and some nice conversations. The venue was around the corner and when we got here at 20 past 6 nobody else had arrived yet. L. said goodbye when the doors opened. It was a small but really lovely downstairs venue and filled up quickly. Eventually A. and A. arrived. I would have been surprised if I had not met them there. We passed the time with conversations and had just started joking about the Icelandic sense of time when the guys walked through the crowd to the stage.

As soon as I’d seen the small stage, I’d decided not to take pictures and enjoy the concert instead. It was a completely different experience. From the first note I close my eyes many times, feeling the music, swaying with it. Just as many times I had my right hand over my band tattoo or was holding on to the vial of volcanic ash I was wearing around my neck. I felt a deep connection with the music and the band that came with a sense of peace and calm which lasted for the entire gig and beyond.

The crowd in Munich was amazing. Calm when they needed to be, listening attentively and cheering loudly in-between. Occasionally someone loudly yelled their appreciation mid song, but that’s OK, we all get carried away at times. 😉 The songs? I’m running out of words to describe how wonderful they are and feel I am repeating myself after every every concert and nobody is going to believe me how great they are, but they really are that brilliant night after night. 😀

I sang along all night to the best of my knowledge, but I still don’t know all the lyrics to al the songs and discovered some of them for the first time. Every instrument could be so clearly heard that for some songs it felt like the had different nuances. Maybe they did, it’s not like they play or sing them exactly the same every night. Some songs confirmed their meaning for me, some gained a new one. I realized that the rhythm of ‘Please help me’ feels very much like a heartbeat and my heart was beating in tune with it. Each song and each note resonated with me, even the songs that I’ve heard a gazillion times before and I loved them all. After ‘Ljóð í sand’ Ragnar mentioned it was from the “red” album (I thought it was “orange” or “yellow-brown”?) and joked about referring to the albums by colors.”It’s easier than saying ‘Svefns og vöku skil'”, Daníel quipped. 😀

From the moment they’d added ‘In the Wake of You’ to the setlist, I’d wanted to name a blog post based on that song and finally the perfect line presented itself “everything starting to drift away with no looking back”. I am quoting it out of its original context, but it perfectly summed up how I felt that moment, letting go of any negative emotions or thoughts that had been haunting me for way too long and focussing on the good times ahead. ‘Þar sem enginn fer’ was introduced as a song about a car ride along the west fjords “that starts out nice, but then everything goes crazy.” I do have to find a translation of that song! As Daníel talked about how the songs tell them which language they want to be sung in, Ragnar added that as a songwriter you learn eventually not to control the songs, but be their servant instead. That made me smile not only because it is something he keeps saying about his solo songs, but also because I know from my own experience that I write best when I let a story (or a blog) write itself. Combined with ‘Shades’ the song brought the first half of the show to a rocking end!

They were back surprisingly quick and started the second half with the usual acoustic set, this time again with the microphones. They really did pick the perfect two songs for this. <3 ‘Entangled’ was delivered without a long introduction or explanation this time. Maybe they just grew tired of it. For ‘Friðþægingin’ they told us about the pronunciation contest and later, when a few raised their hands to the question if anyone spoke Icelandic Gunnar told them they were disqualified from the contest. 😉 When Gunnar announced ‘Passion’ and explained why they dedicate it to themselves and how you are best at the things you are passionate about I felt the truth of these words. We all do best what we feel a passion for and I wager we all feel happiest when we do. I know I do, because this, right there is my passion, experiencing music in every possible way and it certainly make me happy.

The audience was genuine with their “awww” when the heard this was the last song and eager to prove the band wrong by loudly demanding an encore. We succeeded and the guys sang ‘Góda veslu göra skal’ in the crowd before returning to the stage for ‘Nú gleymist ég’. It was perfect and despite our best efforts it really was the last song. All good things have to end sometime I guess.

We stuck around, hugged, talked and I finally tried saying ‘Friðþægingin’ – I got close at least and I don’t like beer anyway. 😛 Talked to the guys aboutthe Hamburg gig thatI will be missing and Gunnar said it was “just a small acoustic thing”. When I mentioned how I’d love to see that, he replied “you like the weird gigs”. Seriously, what is it with my favorite bands not understanding how special and powerful acoustic shows are. I’d gladly trade ten regular shows for one of those, yet the guys insist on them being something that is better not talk about. It will forever remain a mystery. 😉 I thanked them for the gig and left with A. and A. – we had some time to chat until their train left, then said goodbye until the next tour.

Setlist

While this Way
Lover
Please Help me
Vetur að vori
Ljóð í sand
In the Wake of You
Mute
Þar sem enginn fer
Shades

acoustic set:
Sunday Morning
Kill Us

Entangled
Like Snow
Friðþægingin
Himinhvel
Things You Said
Passion

Góda veslu göra skal
Nú gleymist ég

Nivalis winter tour: 10 gigs down, 7 to go. Next stop: Salzburg

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