Sigur Rós – Palladium, Cologne; October 13th, 2017
Sigur Rós are another band I was never interested in seeing live and yet spontaneously bought a ticket for. They had been on my mind since L. gave a raving review of their London show when I saw her two weeks ago. As I was checking the venue’s website for Saturday’s concert, I realized they were playing the previous day, sought and found a ticket (even below face value) and decided to give them a try. Their music never really spoke to me, but I have to admit I only checked out a few songs and I remember watching a show online and liking it. So here I was, still equally tired and high on emotion from the previous day’s Nick Cave show, waiting and unsure what to expect. After the first part I thought this was proof that Sigur Rós did not work for me, but after the second part I was happy I stayed and will file this under “all is well that ends well”.
Thanks to chaotic train connections (as usual 🙁 ) I arrived at the venue late and sweaty. Checked upstairs, but all the good spots on the balcony were taken so I settled down on the floor, somewhere in the middle. I was tired and thirsty, but for reasons I can no longer remember I chose not to get a drink and suffered in silence. When everyone got up, I realized most people in front of me were taller than I am so I didn’t really see much. Not the best conditions to begin with.
The first set started with very little light and low sound, then gradually built up. I thought the lighting was pretty and I didn’t mind the music, but it did not speak to me at all. I watched the band doing their thing completely detached and I could not even entertain myself with taking pictures, because I was in a bad spot to do so. So I stood, listened, watched and waited for… something to kick in, for the music to pick me up and carry me, but it never happened and about halfway through the set I just got bored. I could feel the drums and bass vibrating in my belly, but I felt nothing in my heart, the music did not resonate with me at all.
This did not come as a surprise, since the same had hsppened when I checked out their CD, I just had been hoping hearing them live would be different. It was not the band’s fault, their singing and playing was great, it just was not for me. Towards the end of the set though there was one piano driven song that I really liked so I decided to stay and give them one more chance.
During the break I finally got some water and immediately felt better. When I went back in I ended up a tiny bit further back and more to the left, but it turned out to be a much better spot. Finally I could see the full stage without people’s heads in the way. Much better for taking pictures too.
The second set started and I loved the lighting with background images that made me think of many different things. Watching those was something to get lost in. I also liked the music much better, it had more power, finally made me feel. I cheered for real when the first song ended and managed to focus from then on, letting the images in, following my imagination, seeing strage world in my mind.
The projections on the screen were a mix of concrete and abstract, turning heads with acupuncture needles, fields of sharp rocks or maybe just triangles and something that could have been pulsating blood as well as lava just to name a few. All in all I kept thinking they were mages from space, planets, space ships and such. The colors were beautiful too and everything was so well in tune with the music that it finally carried me.
I have no idea what they were singing, recognized a few words in English or Icelandic here and there, but not enough to make sense of them. I just let the music and the images wash over me and it worked. I am sure they did songs in their invented language too.
Once I found access to it, it didn’t matter that I was tired or could not understand the lyrics. All that mattared was allowing myself to go with the flow. At the end they thanked us in Icelandic (I think), played one last song and left the stage in the dark. They only came back for bows, with the word “takk” projected on the screen behind them. It was a good show after all and I am sure any fan must have loved it. As for me, it was a nice experience in the end, but I don’t think I need to repeat it.