Something new or something echoed from the past?

Árstíðir – Gebr de Nobel, Leiden; January 20th, 2019

Day two of Árstíðir’s Nivalis tour brought us to Leiden and a venue where they had last played more than three years ago. It was a night where the show came together and things fell into place. The band used projections on a screen as part of the concert for the first time. The images tied in nicely with the music, providing some food for thought and dreams. it was a good, enjoyable show that didn’t leave much to wish for.

The train ride from den Bosch to Leiden is a short one so I got to enjoy a bit of the beautiful sunny day in both cities. In the evening, about one hours before the doors opened, I made my way to the venue and was alone for a long time. I should have learned by now that people in the Netherlands do not come to concerts all that early, but I always get too nervous to wait. Just before the doors opened more people arrived and when they did open I was happy to get out of the cold. They played at the smaller o the rooms at the venue and it was the perfect size. Looking at the stage and seeing the screen in the background I knew what was going to happen. Gunnar had mentioned projections the night before. It was a bigger stage too so I decided it would be a good night for pictures. Got ready and waited for P. who texted me she’d be late. It was the best timing aver as she managed join me a minute before the guys walked on stage. 🙂

I stood in my usual spot at the front and while I could not see Jean-Samuel the day before I had a great view of him now. This time, I didn’t see much of Guillaume instead. 😉 The sound was good, but seemed a bit uneven at times. Maybe I just stood too close to one of the speakers. The lights were not great though. Too much red and the guys at the back were in the dark too often for my liking. None of that mattered though. I loved being there and hearing them play the songs I wanted to hear. 🙂

Up until mid 2016 the band had almost been constantly on tour, except for a break to work on the Hvel album. When I first saw them the latest Album was a year old and they started playing new Songs as soon as they came up with them. This hasn’t changed and I’ve heard the first Songs from Nivalis in late 2016. With Hvel though, they went on tour even before it was released and then again right after. with Nivalis that didn’t happen and even though Songs of the Album have been played this felt different, especially because they did a Christmas tour with many acoustic Songs first and the new Album is their most powerful one yet when it comes to Instrumentation. There are still quiet songs, but overall it is more “rock” than the older ones.For a while I even wondered if the’d bring a drummer this time, but it look like that is going to be something exclusive to concerts in Iceland. There are drums though, that’s what computers are for. 😉 They sure have come a Long way from just being three guys with guitars. 😉

So in some ways this tour feels different from the previous ones, but not like a radical change. The band evolved into this naturally, adding instruments and effects as they went along. One of the reasons I love them so much is that I can see development in their work and every album sounds different from ist predecessors. Other than  eolving their Music and becoming more dependent on Technology in the process. This night they introduced even more technology into their show: projections on a screen behind them. For selected songs, gorgeous images were floating across the screen, I remember seeing forests and birds in flight among other things. It suited the songs well and tied in nicely with the music. It also distracted me a bit from watching the guys play and I alternated between doing one or the other.

The music was just as gorgeous as the projections and I found myself floating off into a dreamlike state once in a while. As opposed to the previous night, I mostly kept my eyes open though and watched. In the very beginning. during ‘While this Way’ I looked over at C. and smiled, because we were both singing along. after that I completely forgot about the people around me and just concentrated on the stage. Watching the guys work is just as much fun as hearing them play. I love seeing their fingers walk across strings or keys and I especially love the interactions between them, the small gestures, the moments when they look at each other to determine whose turn it is to announce the next song. These silent communications are always there, but they become less as the tour goes on and get replaced by good natured banter at times. 🙂 I enjoy being around to see how they figure out the details of the show during the tour and develop a routine after a while.

It was still too early on the tour for me to know the setlist by heart, so I had a perfect night smiling about every song I remembered and each one I had forgotten was going to be there surprising me all over again. Singing along as best as I could I caught Ragnar laughing when I tried it with the Icelandic ones. He was clearly amused and I had a flashback from years ago when Jón teased me about the same thing. I don’t mind, I know what I song is most likely wrong, but I’ll keep trying anyway. 😛

During the break C. said it was a much better show than the previous one, because the band seemed to play together so much better. I agreed, they were more in tune with each other that night. Strangely, I love the first show even more, mostly because I thought the sound was better, but also for the mere fact that it was the first one and took away all my worries about not being the show I wanted. It was, giving me everything I could have hoped for. <3 Spent some time chatting with P. too, who was a bit stressed out, but enjoyed the concert nonetheless.

Part two started with the acoustic set again and I was happy to hear the beautiful ‘Sunday Morning’ and the amazing version of ‘Kill us’ again. Both songs work really well in the trio format and while I could imagine many other songs in this spot, those two were just perfect. ‘Like Snow’ brought the most beautiful projections of the night. It was a flying bird and I felt like it was taking me along, high above the earth. 🙂 Everything fit well and I enjoyed the show from start to finish. I even managed to take a few pictures, but it was mostly too dark for those. Again, they ended the show with ‘Passion’, saying it was a song dear to them. It sure can be seen as summing up what they are all about. We called them back for an encore and this time we got only ‘Nú gleymist ég’ – looks like Christmas is finally over. 😉

After the show I got myself a few new T-Shirts and spent time talking with the guys about how much I had enjoyed everything. Gunnar wanted to know if the projections made sense and I confirmed that they did. I also said that they drew attention away from watching them, but he liked it that way. He told us that Sin Fang’s younger brother had made them and that he is working with many artists. We hung out until it was time to say goodbye and I assured them I’d be back Friday. I’m already curious about how the concert will feel after a short break.

pictures of this concert

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

Nú gleymist ég

Nivalis winter tour: 2 gigs down, 11 to go. Next stop: Manchester

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