Good company, deep sighs and a perfect last gig

Árstíðir / Rome – Fryhuset Klubben, Stockholm; March 3rd 2019

It is Monday morning, another wonderful tour has just ended and once again I find myself crying at an airport. I am rather tired, overly emotional and happy as can be. If things go well, this is what being on the road does to me – bring a smile to my face that I cannot wipe off for days and make me cry. I refer to this feeling as happy-sad. Happy for all the wonderful adventures and sad because they are over and I have to return home. Until the next time….
Anyway, the final concert of the Árstíðir tour was just as great as I’d hope it would be. It felt as if  they had poured all of their energy into this last show and everything about it was right. The may have been “just” the support act, but after their set was finished nothing else mattered.

Left Göteborg in dry but grey weather and arrived in Stockholm three hours later in driving snow. It was rather wet snow too so instead of walking the three kilometers to my hostel as I had originally intended, I opted for the Metro (or Tunnelbana as the call it). Arrived and was surprised they already allowed me to check in. Was even more surprised to have the four people dorm all to myself – yay! Staff and hostel were lovely and I spent quite a few hours drinking tea and watching Netflix in the kitchen before retreating to my room for a nap. Yes, I have been to Stockholm before and I’ll be back in two weeks so no need to go out and see things. 😉

Decided not to make the same mistake as the previous day and double checked that 7 pm was the time the doors opened. It was, so I left a bit after six, with a tea. It worked, I did not freeze my butt off this time and was still the first to arrive. Next were two Swedish girls also there for Árstíðir and a British guy, I., whom I had a nice conversation with before the gig. Was the first to be in and encountered and unexpected obstacle: You had to leave your jacket and they did not accept credit cards. I had no Swedish cash whatsoever and got lucky – I. offered to pay for me. Thank you man, you really saved my ass there. Thus, front row was mine and of course I kept a spot for him. We chatted about music and TV and movies until his friend L. arrived and joined us. There wasn’t much time left to talk then, because the band was already waiting side stage.

From the moment the guys stepped on the stage until the moment they left it, the world around me pretty much stopped existing. While the previous night had been all about taking pictures, I’d left my camera at the hostel this time around and enjoyed the music to the fullest. It was so beautiful. The lights were gorgeous, the guys looked happy and the sound was brilliant too. I looked at them smiling, watching them work. I sang along to every word (OK, most of them). I sighed happily several times over and occasionally I closed my eyes, because I needed to feel the music resonate within me. From where I stood I had a great view of the entire band and looked at each of them in turn. Usually, I take a look at the audience from time to time to see if they are enjoying it as much as I am, but this night I was completely focussed on the stage, lost in my own world. I. had to tap my shoulder after a few songs to tell me how much he liked it.

There were no projections in the back this time, but that was OK, I just enjoyed watching the band. From time to time I reminded myself that this was going to be the last Nivalis concert for a while, that the amazing tour I’d been on since January was ending right then and there. It felt like the band was well aware of it too – they poured everything they had into this last gig. Each note was perfect, each song played just right, from quiet to powerful. I was certainly not the only one drawn in. Had somebody just seen this one concert on the tour it would have been alright, because it showed all this band is about, the special magic they bring to the stage.

After the first two songs Ragnar told us it was the last gig of a six week tour and joked that thus they could drink extra. They did not talk overly much that night, rather concentrated on playing and for the one hour they had, it was an ideal selection of songs, that offered a little something from every album and included a few fan favorites too. It was difficult to pick the song of the night, because they were all so good. Whenever they started playin something I though “this is such a great version”. Not only were all the Nivalis songs brilliant, but everything else was spot on too. At one point I thought if someone asked me which CD to buy after this I’d have to recommend them all. 😀

‘While this way’ was so powerful it made me close my eyes. There were just too many emotions to take it all in while having them open. The song is a plea for acceptance as much as a description of a state of mind that sure seems familiar to me. That night though, I felt the plea was heard and answered, so instead of falling off the edge of the world I was caught. <3 ‘Lover’ sure is a song I can relate to. It seems pretty straightforward and I suppose one could think of it as sad in a way, but it isn’t to me, at least not right now. Somebody wise said that once a song is out there, people will make it their own and have their interpretation of it that does not necessarily have anything to do with what the author originally intended. So this is just my idea about it. 😉

I really loved ‘Ljóð í sand’ that night, just as much as I had the very first time I heard it live. It felt like the strings were calling out to me with the guitars and piano underlining their message. “Longing” is the only way to describe it. What for I don’t know, a place I have never been perhaps. It was Gunnar I think who moved along to the first notes of ‘In the Wake of you’ and made me smile. One day someone will dance to this one. 🙂 One song that has grown on me over this tour is ‘Mute’. Grown again I should say, because I remember loving it when they first played it, but once the album was out it got lost in the shuffle of songs i liked better. This past few gigs though, it has really spoken to me and at this very last one it was awesome.

People laughed when Ragnar told us how hard it is to pronounce ‘Þar sem enginn fer’ and yes, it does make my tongue stumble. Still one of my favorite songs though. I look forward to it every night, love how it moves from quiet to powerful and back again. It truly rocks every time. 🙂 Like the previous night they played ‘Passion’ right after. To me it seems to sum up everything about this band and their performance was just as passionate as the song needs to be. <3 Before ‘Kill Us’ they asked if they could be heard without the microphones – people confirmed and grew quiet immediately, listening. It was so much more enjoyable than it had been the previous night and a great rendition too, leading to much cheering.

When introducing ‘Like Snow’ Ragnar spoke about the meaning of nivalis, the band’s obsession with seasons and the usefulness of metaphors. This is another song that has grown on me over the tour and is one of my favorites now. Let’s just say I found some meaning in there that took me a while to discover. 🙂 Of course ‘Friðþægingin’ brought us the usual pronunciation contest and jokes about the “pockets full of beer” they’ve been carrying, because hardly anyone manages to do it right. 😉 I love love love that song and all the dramatic music in it. ‘Himinhvel’ then is dramatic in a different way, musically speaking. I’m not even sure that is the right description, but how else can I describe a song that does not stay on one level, but changes from softer parts to more powerful one sand back again all the time? They have many songs like this and it’s one of the things I love most about their music, especially because no two of these songs are the same.

With ‘Things you said’ I have a bit of a love-hate relationship and I can’t even say why. Or maybe hate is too strong a word here. Sometimes the song speaks to me and sometimes it leaves me shrugging with no emotional response at all. In Stockholm it spoke to me and I loved everything about it. Nothing could go wrong that night. 🙂 There was a lot of “awwww” going on when Gunnar told us they were down to their last song, so they apologized for having their slot and not being able to do an encore. Yes, with this crowd they could have gotten one for sure. Gunnar dedicated it to them and for a moment I wondered if he had forgotten they had played ‘Passion’ already. Yet who says they are not allowed to dedicate any other song to themselves “and every hard working musician out there”? Even though I’d been happy to have ‘Shades’ in the middle of the show instead of the end, there could not have been a better ending to this one. How else would you close your final show if not with a song that has been with you for a while and proved itself a good show closer? 🙂

Several times during the night I found myself close to crying, especially during ‘Passion’, but I was so happy I could not. All the emotions that had built up over six weeks of touring came crashing down on my at once, the most prominent one of them being pure joy at being there, exactly where I wanted to be. With all the history we have and all the ambivalent feelings I went through over time, we have arrived at a point where everyrthing is great again. Had they played ‘Sunday Morning’ that night, I probably would have dissolved into tears. As it as, I just smiled like crazy, closed my eyes, put my hand over my tattoo and felt connected to these guys and their music on a new level, echoing everything that was and hinting at everything that will be. Seems I really needed this tour to finally understand what this band still means to me and right then and there I was truly happy I’d chosen to go to all these shows.

The concert ended on a high note with people shouting “bravo” and cheering for quite some time. The band thanked us, bowed, smiled happily and eventually walked off. As they came back to pack their things, Gunnar leaned for a fistbump with me and I told him how much I’d enjoyed the show and that I thought it had been much better than the previous one. He agreed and we left it at that. 🙂

Wasn’t really interested in seeing Rome from up front, so I said goodbye to I. and L., who both assured me they’d enjoyed Árstíðir and walked to the merch stand to see if anyone had come out to sign autographs. Before the gig I had already gotten and tank top and now I took the chance to say goodbye to Krys and give him a hug as I had the feeling there would not be time for it later. Ran into Jean-Samuel, hugged him, told him how much I’d love the show. Joined Daniel talking to a cirle of people and listened to different stories. When he left I walked around for a while, listened to Rome a bit, didn’t see any of the others. Eventually Ragnar came out so we got to share a few words and say goodbye. I know I’ll see them again on Thursday, but it still felt wrong to leave without a hug. So hugs and thank yous it was, then I decided I did not need any more music and just left.

On the way home the happy tears caught up with me and I was not able to sleep for quite a while, replaying the concert in my head. Life on tour is my favorite way to spend my time and I would not want it any different. Now, sitting at the airport, I look back and I smile. Guillaume just posted something like “I don’t know how to do normal life anymore” on his Instagram story and I laughed out loud. I don’t think I ever knew how and I like it this way. Thank you for everything guys, it was wonderful!

Setlist

While this Way
Lover
Ljóð í sand
In the Wake of You
Mute
Þar sem enginn fer
Passion
Kill Us (acoustic)
Like Snow
Friðþægingin
Himinhvel
Things You Said
Shades

Nivalis winter tour: 18 gigs down, none to go. Last stop: home

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