Your music has magical powers – it healed my soul tonight

Árstíðir – St.Petri Kirche, Oyten; September 28th, 2013

After three weeks on the road Árstíðir’s tour was coming to an end – one last evening of music and for me it would be over until November. It made me happy that this last show took place in a church, where they are always on top of their game. The night turned into a highly emotional one for me to a scary point at which I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle it all. Yet, once again, all I needed to do was give myself over to the music and its magical powers. By the end of the show I had healed, my heart and soul were in balance again, all worries forgotten, only love remained.

The day started too early as I had a 9:30 train to catch. There were too many train changes to catch up on sleep and I really felt the lack of it when I finally arrived in Oyten. My plan to rest and regain some energy completely backfired and I ended up more exhausted than before. A general feeling of melancholia mixed with too little sleep made everything seem unbearable. Much too early I arrived at the church and spent my time chatting with the organizers. Eventually the guys got there, all looking somewhat tired. Myrra wasn’t supposed to play, because the organizers had not hired her, but Masha insisted and rightfully so.

I talked to Masha for a little bit, trying to put up a brave front, but the exhaustion and sadness must have shown on my face, because she asked me if I was going to cry and I already did then. I hid behind my camera and in the background during soundcheck, not sure I was going to survive the night. Even though I felt I owed it to the guys to say goodbye, there was a point were I thought I would not be able to handle it and rather than letting them see my tears I planned to just leave right after the show if it got really bad. Talked to Ragnar and told him I might leave. He understood and decided to give me all the hugs before the show – thank you that was just what I needed!

The church filled up, a front row seat was mine, my camera in the bag at my feet – it was my night off after all. Suddenly C. from Solingen showed up and pointed out where they were sitting. It made me so happy to see familiar faces. 🙂 Soon Myrra was announced and I inwardly giggled at the mispronunciation of her name.

She seemed awfully nervous, probably because there was a certain resentment towards her being there in the first place. Her performance was brilliant though and the audience sure did not mind. Finally, when ‘Sail on’ made everyone sing along beautifully, Myrra smiled. I cried through most of her set, too many bottled up emotions breaking way. The amazing sound at the church made it even worse for me and having Karl and Hallgrímur on stage with her reminded me once again that it was not only the last show of the tour, but the end of an era. I felt nothing but sad.

Setlist:

Insomniac
Animal
Kveldúlfur
Sail on
Við og við tvö
Láru lag

After her set I walked over to talk with the gang from Solingen. They were really sweet and caring. I needed that. With no idea how to make it through the night, I returned to my seat. It was so cold in the church that I put on my fleece jacket, but it could not drive away the cold felt on the inside. The lights went down and from the moment the guys walked on stage until the last note rang out I alternated between hugging myself and holding on to my own hands for most of the concert. At times I was shivering and shaking quite violently, but the tears, though always right behind my eyes, never came.

Not taking pictures forced me to concentrate on the music, to let it all in, to watch the guys playing – not through the lens of my camera, looking for the one perfect shot, but to really see how they played, one with their instruments, caught up in the moment and the music. Slowly, gradually, it made me feel better. I even managed to smile at them a few times. They may have been tired, but they gave all they had. During the quiet parts one could have heard a pin drop and whenever I dared to look around, people seemed happy. Their cheering and applause told the same story. Once again, Árstíðir won over their audience effortlessly.

Now, on the fourth day they had settled in to the new roles they hade taken on within the songs. So much that Karl even joked about it when he sat down at the piano for ‘Orð að eigin vali’: “This looks easy”. They all did well, almost being back to the old flow where everything ran smoothly. Even the a cappella songs worked a lot better now. It still felt a bit weird for me to see only five of them on stage, but I am getting used to it and it does sound amazing. 🙂 I wonder what the guys will make of all this when they have the time to truly rearrange things.

During the course of the evening I watched Hallgrímur a lot, knowing at the next concert I won’t be seeing him any more. It’s not only the cello that I will miss – the heart of so many songs, but most of all his playing. Sure, another player can play the parts I suppose, but I know it won’t be the same. So for one last time I watched Hallgrímur being one with his cello, his face going from total concentration to being lost in the music. And for one last time I listened for his deep voice adding an extra layer to so many songs. <3 I will miss you dear, I will miss you a lot.

Every song sounded especially beautiful that night, maybe because of the great venue, maybe because I could focus my full attention on the music for once. Either way, it was perfect. Some time during the concert Ragnar remarked that they were happy about singing at a venue with such great acoustics and I remembered the previous year in Vilnius when he has said to me playing at a place with great acoustics “makes you sing better”. ‘Shine’ was clearly the highlight for me – it was the best performance yet, sending shivers down my spine.  :’)

For ‘Látum okkur sjá’ Daníel explained the meaning as “just let us see what happens” and joked about the fundamental difference between Germans who feel the need to plan everything and Icelanders who just take things as they come. Before ‘Heyr himna smiður’ Ragnar told the story of singing it at the train station in Wuppertal and how it has been viewed by well over 100 000 people on youTube alone. The performance of the hymn was perfect.

When ‘Nú gleymist ég’ started, I could not believe the concert was coming to an end already. Even though it was heartbreaking, it still felt as if it was all over in the blink of an eye. ‘Shades’ and ‘Tárin’ had the audience yelling for more and of course the guys were on stage again in no time. They were joking about favorite German words (“Zugabe”, “ausverkauft”) and all of a sudden Hallgrímur started telling his favorite thing about Germany and Daníel continued. When it came to Gunnar he was momentarily confused if he should say something about that too “Where are we?” so Ragnar prompted “Zugabe” and they started playing ‘Ages’. The last one, as pretty much every night was ‘Góða veislu gjöra skal’ sung among the audience. Afterwards they still cheered and yelled for more, but that was it.

Setlist: (possibly out of order)

Heiðin
Á meðan jörðin sefur
You just have to know of me
Brestir
þér ég unni
Sunday Morning
Days and Nights
Land mins föður
Við dagsins hnig
Shine
Orð að eigin vali
Ljoð í Sand
Látum okkur sjá
Næturylur
Heyr himna smiður
Nú gleymist ég
Shades/Tárin

Encore:
Ages
Góða veislu gjöra skal

Went to the merchandise stand to wait for the guys. Gunnar was the first to appear so I hugged him. Did the same to Karl when he got there. Said goodbye to the Solingen gang, hugged them and we assured each other to meet again soon. Hung out, chatted, finally got some food. Spent some time listening to Ragnar speak German – he does so really well. 🙂 Finally it was time to pack up and leave. The guys were all tired and had a bus call at 5 am, so there was no wild after party. I hugged each one of them goodbye, including of course Masha, Linda and Myrra, thanked them all for the great tour. Hallgrímur was last and I told him I’d miss him. He joked that they’d replace him in a heartbeat and I told him he was not replaceable. He isn’t, neither is Jón.

Thus, after 11 amazing concerts and three weeks full of memories, fun and often mixed emotions,  the tour ended and it was time to go home, knowing that from now on things will be different. I fully trust the remaining four guys to do well as a quartet. I also trust them to find the right session players for the job and find a way to continue with this band. Needless to say I will support them every step of the way and I will keep my heart and mind open to all things new. “It can be great again you’ll see!”

As for Hallgrímur and Jón: I wish you all the best, whatever is next for you and I hope to see you again soon one way or another. Thank you for the music, the stories, the laughs and the good company. Látum okkur sjá…

Árstíðir  Germany tour fall 2013 – 11 concerts down, none to go. Last stop: home

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