A handwritten songbook, additional string players and a new song

Árstíðir & Kyle Woolard – Christuskirche, Hagen; April 15th, 2016

The yearly Árstíðir show in Hagen is always the closest to home and usually so nice it makes me forget the fact that going those 25 km distance on public transport takes over one hour and how hard it is to get back. This time around Hagen was the tour kick off for the band’s 21 concerts in 6 countries spring tour, supported by Kyle Woolard of The Anatomy of Frank (at least for the first half of shows). It as everything I had expected and then some and I even scored a photo pass for the night. Working didn’t bother me though, I still enjoyed the show.

Left work around noon and did a quick clean up of my apartment before P. arrived. Had food, chatted for a while and left shortly after four to be there by 5:30. We were the first ones to arrive and soon started what would become a rather long line. I. was still on the train from Hamburg, sending messages about being late, but the doors didn’t open on time and she made it just before. 🙂 When we got in the entire front row was reserved except for one corner at the aisle on the right, which I took. There were beautiful Anatomy of Frank Songbooks laid out at many of the seats with handwritten lyrics inside. Lovely job Kyle! Once inside we met the gang from Solingen and I saw some other familiar faces too.

Eventually the church filled up and the chatter died down when Kyle walked on stage. There were two little kids who chose to sit on the steps leading up to the stage and watch from there, which was kinda cute and mad everyone on the stage smile.

He started the show with ‘Blurry’ and kept on going mostly with songs that are not on the current album or not even on any album yet. He always told us where in the songbook to look though.

Kyle was chatty, first telling us about some concert he had seen where the guy ended a song to great applause and said “Damn! That’s a good song!” only to teach us the secret to confidence (just stand with your legs apart). Later on he explained how scary it feels to be surrounded by Trump supporters that you cannot see: “I have 2534 Facebook friend and not one of them supports Trump – where are they?” He compared it to being in a horror movie where the monsters appear out of the blue and eat your brains. He ended that story with wanting to bring something positive and played a cover of Elvis Presley’s ‘Fools rush in (I can’t help falling in love with you)’.

For ‘Occupy Anchorage’ Árstíðir plus two additional string players (Gesa Renzenbrink and Mari Yokota-Wüller ) joined him on stage and he explained that this was as close to the album sound as he was going to get. It sounded absolutely wonderful. He played a few new songs too or at least some I had not heard yet. I enjoyed them all.

Aside from showing us how to be confident he tried a magic trick. He asked P. to think about a number between one and ten, ceremoniously pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and proceeded to unfold it. He then asked her to yell out her number and when when said “Five” he folded up the paper again and put it back in the pocket – brilliant! The next song was then announced as “number five in your lyrics books”.

It was a lovely set and I would not have minded more songs, but he had to stop eventually. The one song I was missing was ‘Vancouver’ which is always such a powerful ending to the show. It was wonderful without it though.

Setlist:

Blurry
Like Headlights through Eyelashes
The Girl from Ipanema
Minnesota Part 2
Fools Rush in
Ecuador
Occupy Anchorage

The break took long enough to chat with the people behind me. Funnily enough one of them was also in Dortmund. We immediately plotted to bring the guys there for once and exchanged contact details. We will see if we can make it possible.

Soon they guys and the ladies playing strings were on stage and started ‘Himinhvel’ bathed in blue light. It looked gorgeous. They sounded gorgeous too, the additional strings really adding something special to their sound. As much as I had loved the shows with Anneke, I had missed this. I would not mind having both on every tour. 😉 Jokes aside, I could not have been happier and despite some people being a bit distracting and kids running around, I fell into the music once again and only came up for air once in a while. 🙂

It was a good setlist, starting out like the ‘Hvel’ shows they had played last year, but becoming a bit more daring as they went along. After the run of songs from ’Hvel’ they played ‘Sunday Morning’ and later ‘Orð að eigin vali ‘.The biggest surprise was the fact that they played two of the Kickstarter backer songs as well, last years ‘Systir’ as well as a completely new one called ‘Tides’. The former has become more rounded and beautiful since the last time I’ve heard it, the latter was just the first version, but also a good song. 🙂

There were quite a few nice moments that made me smile, even though I barely remember what they were exactly. P. and I were sitting across the aisle from me and I remember distinctly one moment where I wanted to comment “Lekker!”, looked at P. and saw on her face that she was thinking exactly the same. 😀 It has become a thing since the ‘Verloren Verleden’ tour. The guys talked quite a lot, telling stories and even teaching us a little bit of Icelandic.

Lights and sound were great that night, everything enhanced by the additional strings. Especially on songs like ‘Ljoð í sand’ it really made a difference. I loved the a cappella songs, the overall sound, the mood the guys were in and the way the setlist was built. It was a great start to the tour and especially the encores were a nice surprise, ending with ‘Silfurskin’. I was a happy camper in the end.

We stayed and chatted a bit with everyone, there were hugs and happiness all around. If the tour continues like this it is going to be perfect. Eventually we had to leave for Dortmund to sleep at least a few hours before setting out to Annaberg.

Setlist (incomplete and out of order)

Himinhvel
Things you said
Someone who cares
Sunday Morning
Moonlight
Heyr, himna smiður
Ljoð í sand
Ages
Shine
Orð að eigin vali
Á meðan jörðin sjefur
Days and Nights
Systir
Tides
Þér ég unni
Shades
You again
Nú gleymist ég

Góda veslu göra skal
Silfurskin

pictures of this concert

Árstíðir spring tour: 1 concert down, 18 to go, next stop: Annaberg-Buchholz

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