Words unfold, familiar to me echo from afar

Árstíðir – W2 Poppodium, s’Hertogenbosch; January 19th, 2019

Sometimes, when I really look forward to something I walk away disappointed, because my expectations are too unrealistic to be met. And with my favorite bands I have the tendency to expect more of them than I would from others. So I was really nervous about Árstíðir’s first Nivalis concert. After all they had not done a proper album tour since 2016 and I’d been waiting for this one for seven months. After the wonderful Christmas tour the band had just finished in December I should have known everything would be fine. Yet there I stood, trying hard to keep my expectations low and hoping for the best. After the show I felt really silly for worrying. Not only did they deliver, they managed to surprise me several times over and had me smiling through the whole concert. 😀

This was my third concert in den Bosch, but i think I’ve never gone there from Dortmund before. It was surprisingly easy and since my hotel was 100 m from the venue I could nicely relax before the show. Wasn’t quite sure where the entrance was and learned it had been moved since last time I was there. Still managed to be the first one at the door. Soon a few more people showed up, some of them familiar. They even let us in early and we had a chance to look at the new merch before the doors to the actual venue opened. I could not remember if they had played there or at the bigger hall last time. It was a small room with a small stage so I immediately decided to give my camera a rest and enjoy the concert without it. I had a good feeling about this.

As they walked on stage there was still music playing. They got their stuff sorted, exchanged a few looks and started the moment it was turned down. Like the album the show started with ‘While this Way’. It is a great opener and I instantly noticed how good the sound was. It made me smile and I felt all was going to be OK. Tried to catch Gunnar’s eye because he’s once told me that when he sees me smile he usually knows it’s a good show. He looked anywhere but my direction though. 🙂

‘Lover’ was next and I loved having that back on the setlist. It was a good version too and I nodded to Ragnar indicating this was going well. They kept the album’s order of songs with ‘Please help me’ and for a moment it made me think they might play the whole album through. Of course that didn’t happen. Ragnar said that even though it was the Nivalis tour they’d play a few other songs too and now it was time for ‘Ljóð í sand’. It’s one of the songs they have to play to make the crowd happy and it did. The audience loved it. 🙂

The guys didn’t talk so much that night, a lot less than they had on the Christmas tour. The first few gigs are for trying out things though. They might get more talkative as the tour goes along or change other stuff. So far I was happy and I’ll see what will happen soon enough. ‘Vetur að vori’ came as a surprise to me. They had not played it in a long time and when we talked about it after the show I was sure they’ve never had it as a fixed part in the setlist, but always as a one-off sort of song. It worked well. When the moment of silence arrived during the song I remembered Ragnar talking about how he likes using silence as part of his songs.

‘In the Wake of you’, one of my favorites made me smile even more than I already was. This show was shaping up to a brilliant one already. 😀 In Mute I heard lines I’d never really noticed before and they fit. I might not have been appreciating that song enough. Somewhere during this first half of the show they asked us if we knew what nivalis meant and someone said “snow”.  Apparently “like snow” is right and it is a Latin term used for plants and animals that live in the North. We also learned that they had even considered it as a band name once. Would certainly have been easier to pronounce. 😉

The show was wonderful so far and I didn’t have any doubts I was going to love the rest of it too. As I felt more relaxed they guys seemed more relaxed in turn and seemed to be really into it by now. I did my best to show them it was going well and hoped the message got through. They joked about their unpronounceable Icelandic song titles with ‘Þar sem enginn fer’. That is such a great song and especially the cello and violin are amazing here. Too bad I did not see much of Jean-Samuel that night, because he was almost always blocked by Gunnar from where I stood. Had a great view of Guillaume though. All of the guys were playing their hearts out and ended the first set with a bang by playing ‘Shades’ there. That came unexpected and I really liked it at that point in the show. From then on I was wondering what the final song would be. Let’s just say both of my theories proved wrong. 😀

Set two started acoustically with just Daníel, Gunnar and Ragnar singing into one microphone. As Gunnar explained this was how they started and how they liked to do their older songs. First was ‘Sunday Morning’ and I wanted to hug them for playing it. <3 I’ve always loved the song and it keeps coming back to me at times of doubt. I sang along with all of my heart. After they had asked about it on Facebook, I expected the guys to play ‘Kill us’ but I never would have thought they’d do so as part of the acoustic set. I’ve heard the song in many incarnations and loved most, but this one was truly special. <3

“Now we’re gonna do something we’ve never done before” they told us, meaning they’d play a song they not yet played live. It was ‘Like Snow’ and it was beautiful. We learned that it could have ended up on Hvel, but needed more time. On the album it is a song that has not yet fully grown on me, but hearing it live was wonderful. I need to give it a few more listens. ‘Entangled’ followed together with an explanation of what quantum entsentanglement is and how it just might apply to human being too and not only to particles. This song has a special place in my heart and not only because it reminds me of the people I’ve become entangled with over the years.

One more unpronounceable Icelandic song with ‘Friðþægingin’ followed. I had thought that if they played it it at all it would be the last one in the set, but it wasn’t. It rocked too. 🙂 When ‘Himinhvel’ was next I noticed just how many Icelandic songs were on the setlist that night. Maybe to balance out the fact that there is only one of them on Nivalis. Either way, it worked well. Having songs in two languages is a big part of the band at it makes me happy to see and hear that reflected in the setlist.

After a great rendition of ‘Things you said’ Gunnar told us it was time for the last song snd people yelled “Nooo!” That reaction made everyone smile. The final song was yet another surprise. They chose ‘Passion’ and it fit perfectly. It was totally unexpected, but being the last song of the album it made a lot of sense. The setlist was great overall. I loved how it flowed.

For the first encore only Daníel, Gunnar and Ragnar were back on stage and chose ‘Jólabæn einstæðingsins’, asking us not to tell anyone it was a Christmas song. They performed it beautifully. Then Guillaume and Jean-Samuel joined them one last time for ‘Nú gleymist ég’. There could not have been a better final song for me. What a great show that was.

They had real, i.e. handwritten, setlists for once and I managed to steal Ragnar’s, but what really made me smile was that Daníel grabbed his and took it with him when he walked off stage. 😀 For the acoustic part it only said “trio” so I am thinking they might play different songs in this spot later on the tour. It said “a cappella” too, but the guys had mentioned they were not ready for that yet.

After the show I talked to all of them and learned some interesting things about upcoming shows from Gunnar. He also mentioned how nervous he had been and wanted to know how the new songs had worked. I told him I’d loved it. Spent quite some time talking to Guillaume and Jean-Samuel as well, got lots of hugs and happily returned to my hotel, looking forward to the next show.

Setlist

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

acoustic set:
Sunday Morning
Kill Us

Like Snow
Entangled
Friðþægingin
Himinhvel
Things You Said
Passion

Jólabæn einstæðingsins
Nú gleymist ég

Nivalis winter tour: 1 gig down, 12 to go. Next stop: Leiden

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