Setlist changes, music lessons and spot on drumming

Árstíðir – Stall 6, Zurich; December 5th, 2019

Árstíðir’s concert in Zurich was one I had not originally planned. This Christmas tour was difficult to fit in with my already existing December schedule and when one of the concerts I had wanted to attend fell threw (due to being in the middle of nowhere and unreachable for me) I needed a replacement and this was the only option. it turned out to be a good choice too. The show was lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It was  long train ride to Zurich, starting an hour earlier than planned, because my originally booked train to Cologne was canceled. Eventually I made it to Zurich though, checked in, had enough time for food and went straight to the venue. I knew it was going to be too early, but since the bar was open I figured I’d have a drink and spent th tme bloging. Sadly, my friend C. could not make it. The concert took place in a former stable with the stage in one corner. It was almost square and people could stand on two sides do the band had set up a little different than usual. Saw all the guys arrive at one time or another, said hello and spent some time chatting with Ragnar before the concert started. I praise the current setlist, it works really well for me.

They were supposed to start at 9.30, but of course it was Icelandic time and they did not start before 10. This felt like past my bedtime already. When I’d walked into the room I had been scared the sound might be shitty, because it is often hard to control in large open spaces like this one. I was mistaken, it was brilliant. The sound engineer really knew his job. 🙂

I had read that the setlist had changed slightly and wondered what that would mean. The first half of the show was the same as in Nijmegen though. 🙂 They started with ‘Himinhvel’ and ‘Ljoð í sand’ and I sang along to the best of my abilities. I still don’t have much of a clue what I am doing, but do it anyway. 😉 Ragnar noticed and smiled. He wasn’t testing me this time and looked away soon. One day I will know all the words…. Maybe :p I’ve always loved ‘Himinhvel’, but for a while I’d grown tired of ‘Ljoð í sand’ though. Not the case that night – I was happy to hear it.

‘Passion’ was great, it sounded full and clear. During ‘Circus’ I paid special attention to all the new piano bits Ragnar had told me about. Next to his regular piano he has some extra equipment now and can create all sorts of new sounds. This creates extra layers in several songs and a harp like sound on ‘Circus’. It is some open piano sound created by Nils Frahm. Not that I have a clue about these things, but it sounded beautiful. Really happy to have that song back. 🙂 They put their instruments aside for ‘Bæn einstæðingsins’ and sang with all their might. I love the song, any time of the year.

Somewhere in-between they had greeted us, but this time we didn’t hear the story about the hermit who wrote the song. We did get the lecture about melancholia in Icelandic music though. They also spoke about their album of the year award, then gathered around the center mic for ‘Ages’. Only Guillaume and Jean-Samuel stayed in the back, playing the wonderful string arrangements. Before ‘Kill us’ Ragnar spoke about trying to recreate the atmosphere of Daníel’s living room from when they started out as a band and where just three guys with guitars. They also had home brewed wine, which apparently wasn’t good and he let us in on the fact that Iceland had neither good cheese not good wine, joking it might be the reason they are so sad (and sing everything in minor). 😉

Not sure ‘Heiðin’ filled me with hope, but I sure like it. I enjoyed every song that night. The guy must have been tired, since they had started from the Netherlands at 5 am. I could not hear any of that in their singing though – it was just as great as always. ‘Síðasta kveðjan’ closed the first set. I am just so in love with that song and always have to close my eyes somewhere along the way, because it makes listening more intense. As I tried to recall the lyrics I thought back on a night out in Krakow long ago where Gunnar was teaching the song to Laurita of Marga Muzika. This one is difficult though – so many words. It makes me happy and sad at the same time, so beautiful it is hard to take. :’)

When Guillaume, Jean-Samuel and Ragnar were back on stage, I had to shush some people behind me who apparently had not realized that they were about to play. Like in Nijmegen part two of the show started with the beautiful string piece by Corelli. Next time I have to ask them what it is called. Again they played ‘Órói’ right after and again I wondered how I could have missed the beauty of that song. <3 After Guillaume, Jean-Samuel and Ragnar, Gunnar and Daníel got their moment in the spotlight with ‘Jólin alls staðar’, showing their skills and really turning this into a Christmas concert. 🙂 Afterwards, Ragnar and Guillaume joined them at the center mic for ‘Heyr,hymna smiður’, another fitting song and a lovely rendition too. Ragnar talked baout singing the song at the train station in Wuppertal and noted the strangeness of your best known song not representing your music at all. So true!

Then they gave us a short example of singing parallel fifth with ‘Krummavisur’ and told us, we might recognize some of that in the next song, ‘Nú gleymist ég’. True, it is in there too, among all the melancholia and drama. <3 ‘Mute’ followed and it occurred to me how much the basic rhythm sound like a heartbeat. It probably is. To my surprise, ‘Things you said’ followed, so dropping ‘Lover’ was one of the changes in the setlist. I wish they hadn’t, but they told me later they didn’t think it was Christmassy enough. The remaining setlist is still close to perfect though, showcasing all of their talents. 🙂

Having ‘While this Way’ almost in the end is pretty much perfect – the song is as good a closer as it is an opener and I wasn’t the only one who had been waiting for it. A woman to my left was singing along with all of her heart just like I did. <3 For a moment there we looked at each other and sang together. As resounding “awwww” was the answer to hearing they were down to their last song. Of course they ended with ‘Shades’ and a killer version of it. I love the power of that song and this time Daníel had the drums turned towards the audience too. His drumming was spot on and made the song really come to life. 🙂

Too soon they said goodbye and we had to cheer and clap to get them back to the stage. The band stepped right into the audience and sang ‘Góda veslu göra skal’ right there in the middle of everyone. Gunnar told us to imagine dancing around the Christmas tree. 😀 It was the only encore they did though. I’d been hoping for one more. Not complaining though, I loved the show.

Stayed a bit to say hello, praise them and chat. They were indeed tired and glad they could finally pack their stuff  and get some rest. That didn’t sound bad to me either since I’d have an early start the next morning. I said goodnight to everyone and told them I’d see them soon.

Setlist

Himinhvel
Ljóð í sand
Passion
Circus
Bæn einstæðingsins
Ages
Kill Us
Heiðin
Síðasta kveðjan

(String piece by Corelli)
Órói
Jólin alls staðar
Heyr himna smiður
Krummavisur
Nú gleymist ég
Mute
Things You Said
While This Way
Shades

Encore:
Góda veslu göra skal

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