Muppets, Comfort Hobbits and a band

Svavar Knútur – Hot Jazz Club, Münster; October 3rd, 2019

Seeing Svavar Knútur is always fun and his shows in Münster are always good so I was looking forward to this one when I bought the ticket. What I didn’t know then and didn’t expect was the emotional hangover I#d feel after seeing Amanda Palmer in Paris and then having a living room show with Ragnar Ólafsson & Isabelle Saadat just four days later. So my head was completely elsewhere and I was super tired. Still, I trust Svavar to make me smile and having The Rocketboys support him is always a plus. It urned out to be a fun show with many surprises that really made me happy.

Under four hours of sleep at night plus and afternoon nap didn’t really cut it, so even if I’d seriously considered going jogging with Svavar in the afternoon, I was in no shape to do so. He gathers his fans to go jogging for the climate before every gig, i.e. whoever come along pledges to donate 5 € to plant trees and offset the tour’s carbon footprint. It’s a great idea, but I am no jogger plus I really do not want to sit at a concert in sweaty clothes and when it’s an hour train ride from home there is no chance to go back and take a shower first. Oh well, I pledges 5 € anyway and got to Münster about two hours before showtime. The usual waiting ensued, we heard the soundcheck with the band and got in around 7. To my surprise there were no chairs this time, but standing room. Damn, I am getting too old for this. 😉

Around 8 Svavar was on stage to introduce The Rocketboys, who were supporting him for the third tour in a row. Apparently they had not been officially announced for Münster, but I was happy to see them again. 🙂 Their music is lovely and they are always a good warm up for Svavar. They played a short, five song set, all with songs from their album ‘Certain Circles’. It was lovely, even though I was a tad disappointed they didn’t play ‘Viva Voce’, my favorite. They made me very happy overall. After the previous night’s gig I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to enjoy anything else and I had not felt ready for more music at all, but they made all my doubts disappear and put a smile on my face right away.

Go ahead
Away we go
Slow down
I will call you Home
The Land that no one promised us

We cheered loudly for encores and Svavar joined them for ‘The Best’ – they played it in the crowd, close to me. <3 Afterwards, Svavar climbed on stage right away, telling us how much he loved them and starting with his own show. He spoke about team awesome jogging with him and joked that he was doing so much for his health he could start smoking now. We heard about the music he grew up with and his love for ABBA before he played ‘Like an Angel passing through my Room’ for us. It fit right in with the Rocketboys and gently carried us over into his set.

He introduced his main themes, Weltschmerz, Waldeinsamkeit and Wanderlust, lingering on the Weltschmerz and explaining how his listens to people and feels their pain. He noted that white, middle-aged men have pain too and feel like nobody is listening to them. It occurred to me that this is Svavar’s version of what Amanda Palmer means when she says that radical compassion includes everyone. Interesting, how everything comes back to Amanda for me these days. It made me smile. 🙂 Consequently, ‘Emotional Anorexic’ was dedicated to white, middle aged men.

From Waldeinsamkeit and jokes about non-existent Icelandic forests we went to ‘Morgunn’, but not before we heard that becoming middle aged is a decision. 😉 Somehow he got from there to the description of a car chase in a James Bond movie which was really graphic and extremely funny. 😀 The new song ‘Janúar’ was introduced by praising the months as a hero, much like Batman. I had not gotten around to listening to the single yet and liked it a lot. I was fascinated by hearing Svavar speak about colors and melodies of languages. To illustrate his point he sang a few lines of Johannes Brahms’ ‘In stiller Nacht’ in English and then the whole song in the original German. 🙂

Next he told us about how boring music on the radio can be, because there are only a few chords and a few themes in most songs we hear. Also they are almost always love songs as if there were no other topics. Good point and of course well illustrated. 😀 After ‘Ölduslóð’ he let us know that the band was going to join him for part two of the show, so the people who did not care about a band concert could have some fun too. He played us ‘Emma’, a song he had written for his daughter and not played live before. It was lovely. He told us about his upcoming spring tour with strings (wow!), let us hear a German joke and then finished the first set with ‘While the World burns’, always a favorite of mine.

During the break I went and said hello to Svavar, hearing he was having a fun time. Eventually he got back on stage and tried ordering a beer from the bar. He joked about aggressive ringtones, Germans named Klaus and let us know the band had not rehearsed. Then we got a piece of Icelandic history and learned that of the 20.000 Icelanders who emigrated to America about 200 ended up in Brazil. He introduced ‘Lady Winter’ as the song for the people who left Iceland for America. It sounded amazing with the band. 😀

He let us know he was anxious about plying with a band, because he didn’t know what to expect in this set up. With a plea for saving trees, they went into ‘Undir birkitré’. He announced ‘Wanderlust’, but interrupted himself right away, because he had to tell a story. It was about the two Canadian women he had lied to after a gig inside a glacier in Iceland. It had a new, funny ending though. Liegasms for the win! 😀 Then we got to sing along to ‘Wanderlust’. It was a lot of fun to hear these familiar songs with a band. 🙂 Finally the beer arrived and his drummer asked if he could have it. He was just messing with Svavar though. 😉

It was back to languages and the different pronunciation of the word “cool” – I could not describe it if I tried. ‘Tiger and Bear’ was lovely as always. After that they took a chance with ‘The Glorious Catastrophe’, which he rarely plays. They managed it well and it was obvious they were all enjoying this gig as much as I was. <3 Svavar and The Rocketboys switched places and they took the lead on ‘Viva Voce’. I love that song either way and hearing it with the full band was absolutely perfect. <3 The last song in the set was a brilliant version of ‘The Hurting’ that followed a story about playing it at Reykjavik Crossfit Championship and how surprised the people where when they saw the man behind that song. With a band the song even had more power than it usually does. 😀

Yes, we sure wanted more and got two rather unexpected songs as an encore. One was a cover of Alphaville’s ‘Big in Japan’ – ah the memories of my youth. The other one was announced as being from The Muppet Show and that we would know what to do. We certainly did when, after he had instructed the band to just stand around the microphones when he started singing “mah ná, mah ná” and everyone answered “ba di bi di bi”. It could not have been better with Svavar going ful Muppet monster and the others scolding him when he went too wild. 😀 There could not have been a better ending to the show and Svavar knew. No matter how much we clapped and cheered he would not come back for another encore. What a fun night that was!

Setlist

Part 1 – solo

The Best (The Rocketboys cover) (performed by The Rocketboys with Svavar)
Like an Angel Passing Through My Room (ABBA cover)
Emotional Anorexic
Morgunn
Janúar
In stiller Nacht (Johannes Brahms cover)
Ölduslóð
Emma
While The World Burns

Part 2 – with band

Lady Winter
Undir birkitré
Wanderlust
Tiger and Bear
The Glorious Catastrophe
Viva Voce (The Rocketboys cover) (performed by The Rocketboys with Svavar)
The Hurting

Encore:
Big In Japan (Alphaville cover)
Mah Nà Mah Nà (The song made popular by The Muppet Show)

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