Falling off the edge of the world

Árstíðir / Myrkur / Sólstafir – Debaser Strand, Stockholm; December 20th, 2017

Early in Árstíðir’s set, Ragnar talked about how the five week tour had been and that they were feeling it after five weeks but were super happy to be in Stockholm. He concluded with “I think I’m gonna cry afterwards actually”. The sentence could not have been more fitting, because for me the whole concert year ended with this gig. It was a good concert to finish the year with, even though it was not the one I had originally planned to be my last show. It certainly  made me forget a few rough days and gave me some good memories to feed off. I was glad I made it to Stockholm to see and hear this.

The day before leaving for Stockholm I had gotten some bad personal news that made me think about not going there at all. In the end I decided to take this last trip to say goodbye to Árstíðir and to skip their Christmas concert in Reykjavik in order to be with my family. It was not an easy decision to make, but in the end family is always first so I decided to get as much enjoyment (and distraction!) out of this concert as I possibly could.

Having to get up in the middle of the night and carrying a heavy suitcase all the way to Sweden didn’t make the trip easy, but other than that everything went smoothly and upon arrival at my hotel I was even invited for a second breakfast. 🙂 Spent the afternoon catching up on sleep and went to the venue way too early, walking up and down in front of it. Saw Gunnar briefly and we hugged before he hurried off somewhere. A nice couple arrived, all excited to see Myrkur and we had a good chat until more people joined us. Ragnar came out for a quick chat and to pick up the cookies I had brought for the band. It is my personal Christmas tradition after all. 🙂

The doors opened, nobody cared about my camera and I got to pick a spot in front row. Of course I stayed on the left, as always. The stage was the smallest I had seen on this tour, but there was a barrier in front. It only took about 30 minutes between doors opening and Árstíðir walking on stage. I was equally happy and sad to see them, because with now new tour dates in sight I had no idea how long it would be until the next concert. With the first notes of ‘Himinhvel’ I took a deep breath and let go of any sad thoughts. There was no place for them here.

They had changed the order of songs since the last show I’d seen so ‘Shine’ was next. It still is as beautiful as it was the first time I’ve heard it and it still gives me goosebumps. That night I discovered some new nuances in the song that made it feel like I was hearing it for the first time. <3 Ragnar invited Hallgrímur on stage to join them on drum and he stayed for the remaining songs. Hearing him play on ‘Passion’ was awesome. I see strings and a drummer in the band’s future!

Their set was all sorts of beautiful and I managed to dream for just a little while as I watched the guys, my guys do what they do best. Sadly, not all that many people had come to see the first band, but those who did were much rewarded and rewarded them with attention and applause in turn. ‘Mute’ has already become one of my favorites. Even though I have yet to fully figure out the lyrics it touches my heart already. 🙂 ‘Things you said’ is so much better with drums too. I loved it.

For ‘While this way’ Gunnar announced they were going to turn it down a notch and they did. I had to remind myself not to hold my breath. These new songs are so amazing already, I wonder what they will become on the new album and how many of them will even end up on it. We will see. The finale, as always, was ‘Shades’. I wished I could have seen the concert in Brussels where they had Guillaume on cello and Hallgrímur on drums. I am sure this was the next best thing though. The song never fails to move me. It is certainly one of their best. 🙂 And with this, my last Árstíðir concert ended and I said goodbye in my heart. Until next time…

Setlist

Himinhvel
Shine
Passion
Mute
Things you said
While this way
Shades

The best thing about Myrkur’s performance was watching the couple I had talked to before the show, because they really got into it and loved every song. Me? I was indifferent as always. The venue had filled and many seemed excited about seeing her, but I still could not relate to the music and have to admit I had given up trying by then. I passed the time taking pictures and counting down to the last song. There is no doubt the band knows what they are doing and she is a good live performer, but it still leaves me cold. Sorry, not for me, I could have easily done without these 40 minutes.

Setlist

Mareridt
The Serpent
Ulvinde
Onde børn
Vølvens spådom
Jeg er guden, i er tjenerne
Måneblôt
Elleskudt
Skøgen skulle dø
Skaði
De Tre Piker

Finally the stage was set for Sólstafir and I really looked forward to seeing them. They keyboards were hidden a bit in the back corner, but I still had a good view on them and on Hallgrímur too. It felt as if the venue had gotten even more crowded and when a few of the Myrkur fans left after one or two songs, the empty spaces filled up quickly. They had no idea what they were missing. Sólstafir delivered a brilliant show and even though the lights were less than ideal and the sound had been better elsewhere, the performance was amazing. 😀

Even at my fourth concert I didn’t manage to sing along and I still could not have named most of the songs they played, but the music and the singing got to. The band made me forget my worries and live in the moment. Time and space disappeared for a while. I watched and I listened and tried to capture everything with my camera as well. Ragnar was going crazy in the back, head banging all the time. At the early concerts he still needed to concentrate on his playing, but after five weeks of touring it just seemed to flow and he had fun like everyone else in the band. 🙂

The concert was sold out and the audience was much into it. The barrier separating us from the stage was easily bridged by Addi, who leaned out and shook hands, walked on it, using our hands and shoulders for support and even went into the audience in the end so far that some the tape that held the microphone cable had to be ripped off to give him more leeway. 😀

The setlist remained the same from the first concert I saw to the last one, but somehow the music seemed to have grown more powerful. The band had more routine by the end of the tour and I knew the songs a little better. I certainly enjoyed it and could have done a few more of those. It made me happy that after all these years of going to concerts and touring I can still let new bands in. I hope it will never stop.

When ‘Goddess of the Ages’ started I could not believe it was the last song already. Granted, they are all rather long and especially this one is so much fun, because the entire band goes crazy, but still I did not want it to end. For the last time I tried to take it all in: the crazy guitar and bass playing, the wild drumming and the hammond being carried around and still played. It put a big smile on my face that did not leave me until the band was long gone. I felt grateful that this was my last concert of the year. 🙂

pictures of this concert

Setlist

Silfur-Refur
Ótta
Lágnætti
Ísafold
Köld
Hula
Fjara
Bláfjall
Goddess of the Ages

Once they were gone and I waited to say goodbye, I suddenly felt deadly tired. There had not been all that much sleep in the past week and mixed with some sad thoughts returning I was beat. I sat down for a while and in passing Addi told me it was nice to see me again so I told him how much fun I’d had. Watching the guys work I thought of the Christmas concert again and how I’d always watched them packing up. Not this year. I chatted with Ragnar for a while and hugged him goodbye. The others I only saw in passing. I’m sorry the end of the year tradition is broken. Hopefully we can pick it up again next year.

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