On the power of music and the importance of Gemeinschaft

Svavar Knútur / The Rocketboys – Badehaus, Berlin; September 22nd, 2017

Day two of my little tour with Svavar Knútur brought me to Berlin, where The Rocketboys supported him. We all had a wonderful evening at the sold out Badehaus in relaxed atmosphere with funny stories, lovely songs and an audience that could not get enough. Was it worth the trip? You bet it was!

Berlin, despite being 500 km across the country, is always easy to get to. The direct train only takes 3 hours 20 minutes, so even working until noon was not a problem. By 6 pm I had reached my hostel and would have even had time for a short nape if the tickets had not had the wrong time printed on them. It didn’t matter though, I enjoyed the nice day outside and was one of the first people to get in, scoring a nice seat front row center. So far, so good.

This time, ticket and posters listed The Rocketboys as support – I had just thought they’d be around for the entire tour. Only knowing one of their songs, ‘The Best’, which Svavar covers from time to time, I was curious what they’d sound like. I spotted a piano and a guitar on the rather dark stage and counted on more light once they started. Svavar walked on stage, the lights went on and he introduced the band we were about to hear as friends he met on the road. Only two members of the five piece band had come to tour with him – the two most important ones he pointed out.

Svavar left, the two guys took their places on stage and without further ado started playing. At first, they did not convince me at all. It was all nice and listenable, but it did not move me in any way. OK then, I thought, this happens, maybe they will grow on me. Somewhere towards the end of their set though, they suddenly played a song that spoke to me. I don#t remember the title, but I immediately liked it. So maybe they weren’t so bad after all? From them on, I enjoyed their music much more and smiled at the thought of seeing them again at the remaining concerts.

Shortly after, Svavar was back on stage and told us he did not want to take a break in his set this time so if we needed drinks we should just go get them in-between. From the start he let us know that he wanted the concert to be like a trampoline where you have to go down first in order to go up. He always manages to take me up and down or down and up again. The order really does not matter here, because I know I will leave the concert with a big smile on my face.

The place was full, people even set on the floor and it was clear that many had been to one of his concerts before. They cheered, sang along nicely and shouted out requests too. I love the songs just as much as I love the stories and it is the combination of both that makes me come back again and again. I love how there kind of seems to be a certain theme every tour, a set of stories we get to hear, but how they are never twice the same. The details always change, the get shorter or longer, become more detailed. The mood and the audience reaction differs too, even though eventually there is always laughter. It is the best part of the show and the hardest to write about. I’ve been trying for a while now, but even if I repeated each and every story word by word I would not be able to capture the essence of the particular concert. I can, however give you an idea by repeating bits and piecs. Everything else you have to find out for yourself.

Since it is a tour of the ‘My Goodbye Lovelies’ album, I expect to hear a lot of songs from that one, but the setlist has been shaken up quite a bit since May. It was similar to the gig in Münster a few days before, but certainly not the same. I’m not sure I remember all of the songs though, might be missing a few. We got to hear Svavar’s cover of ‘Fuzzy’ again and a song I had never heard before, called ‘The glorious catastrophe’. He told us it was about a messed up relationship. When he tells us how breakups are good for you, I always kinda wanna ask how many he has been through, but that is none of my business. I also wonder how much of that is made up, but in the end it doesn’t matter if it is a good story. Generally speaking I’d say one is well advised to take everything with a grain of salt. The serious stuff always comes across anyway.

This night we learned how powerful music is, making us feel connected and how singing improves our Gemeinschaft (community). We all agreed that it is important especially right now. We also got a funny story about the ongoing fight between Sellfoss and Hveragerði, involving trampolines, fall storms, hot springs and growing weed. I nearly wet myself laughing and it sure wasn’t the only time that night I laughed out loud. When I describe Svavar’s concerts to others I always add the word “comedy” somewhere, because he is a lot more than “just” a singer/songwriter or storyteller. 🙂

I loved the setlist and it made me happy when at the end of the set, after ‘Here comes the hurting’, a song he envisions a great career on TV for, he asked The Rocketboys on stage with him. That could only mean one thing: ‘The Best’. They played it together brilliantly. I do enjoy Svavar’s version of it, but this was magical. He traded vocals with Brandon, while Justin played the piano. It was beautiful.

We soon got Svavar back on stage for an encore, ‘Girl from Vancouver’ which brought the last sing along of the night and at teh very end ‘Talking to an Angel’. It was a good night. I stayed for a little chat, bought a bag with Svavar’s brokkoli design, heard jokes about my “bootleg brokkoli T-shirt” (which I drew back in July, long before I saw the official ones) and finally left to get some sleep. Onwards tomorrow.

pictures of this concert


Goodbye my Lovely
Undir Birkitré
Ev’ry time we say goodbye (Cole Porter)
The glorious catastrophe
Fuzzy (Grant Lee Buffalo)
The Curtain
Baby would you marry me
While the World burns
Here comes the hurting
The Best (The Rocketboys)

Girl from Vancouver
Talking to an Angel (Annie Lennox)

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