The taste of your voice reveals what before was unknown

Árstíðir – Lutherhaus, Osnabrück; September 21st, 2012

“Árstíðir – you just have to know of me” is the title of a documentary I watched last year. I love movies and I love music so it seemed only natural to go and watch a documentary about an Icelandic Independent band I had never heard of. I immediately loved their music. Six guys playing various instruments and singing beautifully. Meant to buy their CDs and never got around to it, but kept hoping that one day they might make it to Germany so I could see them live. This year the toured Germany and I knew I had to go. The closest stop for me was Osnabrück.

I didn’t listen to any of the music before I went there, I just allowed myself to be surprised. With only a vague memory of what Árstíðir sounded like, I made my way to the Lutherhaus for an evening of Icelandic folk. We were seated at tables and I picked one right in front of the stage with a good view. At 8 p.m. the lights went down and the six guys walked out on stage. A grand piano, a cello, a violin, three guitars and six microphones were their gear for the night. They said a brief hello and without further ado started with ‘Sunday Morning’ followed by ‘Heiðin’  – by then I was already smiling hugely. The acoustics in the room were great and they sounded just beautiful. 😀

The instrumentation differed with every song and they took turns singing – sometimes it was just one of them, sometimes all six and mostly two or three in harmony. The music rose and fell, it moved me, and it amazed me. Some songs were really rocking, others were quiet like a whisper. I loved the choir songs all six of them sang without instruments. They told us they practice those on the bus when they are on tour. These songs would be very fitting to be sung in s church. 🙂 Less than that my favorites of the night were ‘Ljóð í sand’ and ‘Lost in you’

I enjoyed the English songs as well as the Icelandic ones. I liked that I could understand what they sang in English and follow the stories the songs told. Yet the Icelandic songs had something very powerful, almost magical about them. I found the English songs easier to access, because the words made sense to me, yet I still had to feel the music to get the meaning. The Icelandic songs spoke to me on a different level. Not being able to understand any of the words forced me to let go of what I was thinking and listen with my heart. It was one amazing experience.

I watched the guys while they were singing and had the feeling they were lost more in the songs they sang in their mother tongue, sang them more passionately. There is something about songs in a language I don’t understand. My brain always wants to make sense of the words and it is hard for me to let go if I’m not getting the meaning and just enjoy the music. When it happens, it’s wonderful. I can fall into the music and let the melody carry me, hearing the voices as an additional instrument that becomes part of a symphony. I had no trouble doing that here and instead of struggling to make sense of the words, I just listened to what the music told me. I heard melancholia, but it didn’t make me sad. I heard longing, but I also heard joy. From time to time the guys told us what the titles mean or the songs are about, but some remained untranslatable. I closed my eyes a few times and I saw rocks, empty roads, sparse green, a light blue sky and black sand. I’ve never been to Iceland so I don’t have much of a concept of what it might look like, but somehow I imagine it to be a harsh country in terms of weather and landscape. Yet the music I heard told me that it is beautiful. The concert was almost a meditative experience, not quite the usual rocking out. The guys were so much into it, highly concentrated, very much with the music and their playing. I enjoyed watching them as much as I enjoyed listening.

I didn’t look at the audience at all, but judging from their clapping I’d say they enjoyed it every bit as much as I did. When they guys asked who had heard of them, only a handful of people raised their hands. Yet by the end of the concert he room was filled with cheering people and I don’t think anyone walked out of there who wasn’t glad to have come. If any complaint can be made it’s that it was over too soon. I could have listened to them for hours, but at shortly after 10 p.m. they said goodbye. When they first left the stage the floor was literally shaking because people were stamping their feet so hard and the clapping was accompanied by loud cheers. Árstíðir came back for two more songs then left for good.

Quite a crowd gathered at the merchandise stand, buying CD and getting autographs. I chatted with the guys for a bit, thanked them, raved about how much I had enjoyed it. They were really friendly, told me a bit about the rest of the tour and how they had liked it so far. It was a lovely evening and absolutely worth the trip. I sure hope I’ll get to see them again. Soon. Until then the CDs will have to suffice.

Setlist

Sunday morning
Heiðin
Day ‘n’ Nights
You just have to know of me
Brestir
Þér eg unni
Orð að eigin vali
Lost in you
Ages
Nú gleymist ég

Ljóð í sand
Látum okkur sjá
Á meðan jörðin sefur
Næturylur
Við dagsins hnig
Land mins föður
Til hennar
Shades / Tárin

Encore
Ísland farsældafrón?

Góða veislu gjöra skal

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