Svavar Knútur – Hot Jazz Club, Münster; September 19th, 2017
With every fall comes a Svavar Knútur Tour and I always know it’s going to be fun seeing him. After starting all the way up north and briefly visiting The Netherlands, the west was next and thus I found myself at Hot Jazz Club in Münster fort he first of five concerts. I had a great time and I’d expected no less. Svavar was in a good and talkative mood, played us some songs I had not heard live before and made everyone laugh as well.
As soon as I arrived I met a guy I’d met last year in Münster and we chatted until it was time for the gig to start. I had expected a support act, but the stage didn’t look like there’d be one and shortly after 8 Svavar walked through the crowd, introduced himself and played ‘Goodbye my lovely’ for us. Like back in May this is a tour supporting his album of goodbye songs ‘My Goodbye Lovelies’ and thus, we get to hear a lot of them, but there is still more than enough room for other songs. Of course ‘Undir Birkitré and a few comments about “Waldeinsamkeit” had to be there, complete with definitions of Icelandic forests (if the number of trees is the number of people looking at it plus one it’s a forrest).
Before ‘Ölduslóð’ he told us about his first love and even though I’d heard the story before, he managed to put a new twist to it, describing and showing us how they ran with their snow suits looking like angry penguins. He claimed knowing how that looks because he once made a penguin angry by telling her something nasty. Who knows, maybe he does not only speak whale but penguin as well. 😉 Anyway, he described in detail how he was running towards his first love, planning to finally win her over only to realize that is wasn’t her and the moment was gone. We learned that comedy is tragedy plus time and that in retrospect many things are funny if you only wait long enough. 😀
Svavar went from talking about a wedding to telling stories about accidentally strangling a minky whale in a hotel bed. Sometimes I have no idea how he gets from one point in his stories to another. He’s just freely associating I think, but it always is very funny. He said several time that he was just kidding. And by the way this had nothing to do with the following song at all. 😀
‘Wanderlust’ was followed by ‘Ev’ry Time we say goodbye’ which led to a story about a gay guy who came up to him after a concert in Poland, saying he felt connected because of that song. It all got serious for a moment, because being gay and living on Poland with the current political climate is difficult and this guy was in the closet for fear of not being safe otherwise. Svavar pointed out that we all need connections and people who care about us in times like these.
Next we got to hear Grant Lee Buffalo’s ‘Fuzzy’ a song that he used to open his shows with but had not played in 10 years and ‘Humble Hymn’ which I had also never heard him play. Of course there was lots of singing along too. He always takes care of our health and makes us sing. From talking about liking beer Svavar got to drinking and a far off galaxy where bird like creatures have merged with fungi. What ?!? The first set ended with ‘Ulfar’, a song about his son that he dedicated to a young boy in the audience.
Set two started with ‘Brot’ one of my favorites and soon turned into a lesson about Nordic people in general and Icelanders specifically. How they are rude and do and say the wrong things all the time, but people like them anyway, because they are cute – “like little perverted teddy bears”. ‘Tiger and Bear’ followed and ‘The Curtain’ which he described as “not hot jazz, but lukewarm jazz”. The word “lukewarm” made me inwardly giggle, but that had nothing to do with the Hot Jazz Club we were at or this particular concert.
‘Clementine’ was announced as “the first real song I wrote”, to deal with real hurt after only writing more comedy like songs. The lighter ‘Baby would you marry me’ followed and we learned more about Nordic people, the Danes he equally loves and hates who are always so confident and believe they have no accent when they speak English and the Finns, who are the most introvert of the all (hobbies: drinking, sauna and contemplating suicide) and need the most personal space. We got back to that topic later, but first he had to tell us how the first time he got yelled at was in Germany because he walked on a bike path. Dude, don’t try that in The Netherlands! Continuing the theme about the personal distance Nordic people (and especially Icelanders) need Svavar got into a story about traveling by train and about one particular trip in Switzerland where an old lady not only wrinkled her nose at him and still sat down close by in an otherwise empty car, but started emitting horrible farts as soon as she sat there, assuring us it was a true story.
‘While the World burns’ and ‘Girl from Vancouver’ closed the set, together with a story about Spotify which is a Nordic service and used to have Danish speaker introducing it. He imagined for us how the other Nordics would not do it, because they had an accent (Norwegians and Swedes) or where too shy (Finns). Somewhere along the way he pointed out how much Icelanders and Finns have in common and I do agree, but still believe they are very different. At least the ones I know.
As an encore we got Annie Lennox’ ‘Talking to an angel’ because Svavar has loved the song since he was little. He talked about how important our early experiences are and how easily they can get fucked up so he tries to make these times good for his kids and is happy to have great childhood memories. 🙂 I left my seat after that, because I had a train to catch and heard one last song, ‘Johnsburg Illinois’ from the back of the room just before I left. Judging by the amount of applause I’d wager he played one more, but I did not have the time to stay and find out. All is well, there will be more concerts this month and it was a good start. 🙂
Goodbye my Lovely
Ev’ry time we say goodbye (Cole Porter)
Fuzzy (Grant Lee Buffalo)
Tiger and Bear
Baby would you marry me
While the World burns
Here comes the hurting
Girls from Vancouver
Talking to an Angel (Annie Lennox)
Johnsburg Illinois (Tom Waits)