They say hope is a fickle thing but I’d rather hope than face another frozen spring

Svavar Knútur – Neues Schauspiel Leipzig; September 12th, 2021

Svavar Knútur’s concert in Leipzig was the funniest one I have seen on this tour and that says a lot, considering I was rolling with laughter each night. It also had a very beautiful setlist, which made it the perfect last show for me. 🙂

With Leipzig just a short train ride away, I had a relaxed morning in Dresden, before moving on. I had enough time to go for lunch and get some sleep before going to the concert, which was a good thing considering I’d have to leave around 4 am the next morning. It was a long walk to the venue, which turned out to be a nice small theater with adjacent bar.

We were all seated far away from the stage which was the first thing Svavar noted at the beginning of the concert. He thanked us for coming on a Sunday night, referring to “Tatort” being on. It is a well known German crime TV series, running on Sunday nights, that used to keep people at home. Before starting with ‘Fagurt er í Fjörðum’ he gave us a rough translation and remarked that he’d start with the sad songs and play happier ones later.

‘Your Love was death to me’ as next and he explained how it is about a toxic relationship, musing that sometimes they are toxic because the people involved bring out the worst in each other. It is a good song, I’m glad he rediscovered it. He talked about how he likes playing zoom shows because he can see people when he does and played ‘Hard Things’ for us. Another great old song. 🙂

Since 99.9 % of the best days of his life started with a morning, ‘Morgúnn’ was up next and immediately put a smile on my face. Before ‘Spór’ he explained that he wanted to wrote a sad song, but realized he’d rather write a song about his daughter instead and changed it. I had not heard that one in a while and forgotten how beautiful it is. 🙂 ‘Tiger and Bear’ was next and this time he made sure to put the capo in the right place, determined not to fuck up this time. And he didn’t. 😀 It came with a long winded rant about how writing about love is boring and how “The Sultan of Brunei” sounds like a gay diva from the Glasgow club scene. 😀

The was talk about language differences again for ‘Undir Birkitré’ and it seemed to get funnier each night. This time it somehow included a story about Faroese and kindergarten sounds. Being a fellow language nerd, this is so much fun for me. After the song he told us a story how making a joke about “Fiege” beer in Bochum had unforeseen consequences. He then changed his mind about playing a song in English and played ‘Ölduslóð’ instead. The last song before the break was ‘Wanderlust’ and ended with a great sing-along. I had missed this one. <3

Svavar mentioned how he had broken a string on his ukulele the previous night and wondered if that was rock ‘n’ Roll. I’d say so! He continued with the ‘Song about the Raven’ and explained what the song is about first. The beautiful ‘Vetrarsól’ followed – it truly captures the how lovely it is to see the sun in Iceland in winter. He joked about Icelanders who escape the winter and fly to canary islands, especially when they are people supporting the Icelandic equivalent of AFD and then complain about Schengen while vacationing in the EU.

We got a lesson in songwriting on the guitar and how most songwriting starts from a few basic positions. He illustrated the use of G, C, D minor, A, E and F making up songs on the spot as examples of what these chords are mostly used for, like tragic love Songs or Blues. 😀 A bit of history about Iceland formerly being a slave society in the 1800 followed – it was interesting to hear and lead to ‘Lady Winter’ and ‘Hope and Fortune’. I love ‘Lady Winter’ and was so happy to have it back in the setlist. <3 ‘Hope and Fortune’ was great as well and really feels like a continuation of the story.

Of course we could not miss the songs about Svavar’s favorite months of the year to “appreciate the unappreciated”. He joked how they had given all of their reasons to celebrate to December so that month would not be so shitty and boring. January was praised as the bringer of light when the sun is coming back and November for being a time of reflection. ‘Janúar’ and ‘November’ are both great songs, no matter what one may think about the months in question.

Because of the broken string, i had brought my ukulele for Svavar to use and given it to him before the show. However, he decided not to play ‘Girl from Vancouver’ to end the show but “a song I haven’t played enough on this tour”, which was ‘The Hurting’. Yay! It is so good and always such great fun!

To loud cheers he came back for an encore and played ABBA’s ‘Like an Angel walking through the Room’ and ‘When all is said and done’ for us. Both were wonderful and I even cried a little. He plays them so well too. Afterwards he built up to ‘Mana Mana’ by telling us it was an Italian jazz song, originally in a  erotic documentary about Sweden (Sweden – Heaven and Hell) and how we could find the movie on youTube. So my ukulele was used after all and everyone had fun singing along. 😀

When it was over I gathered my things, said goodbye and got a hug for the long way back to my hotel. What a great night!

Setlist

Fagurt er í Fjörðum (Látra-Björg)
Your Love was Death to me
Hard Things
Morgúnn
Spór
Tiger and Bear
Undir Birkitré
Ölduslóð
Wanderlust

“Song about the Raven” (Icelandic)
Vetrarsól
Lady Winter
Hope and Fortune
Janúar
November
The Hurting

Like an Angel walking through the Room (ABBA)
When all is said and done (ABBA)

Mana Mana

All of our sorrows and all of our pain will make like the snowflakes and melt in the rain

Svavar Knútur – Societätstheater, Dresden; September 11th, 2021

The concert in Dresden was completely different from the previous one in Weimar, not so much in setlist, but in overall mood and atmosphere. The theater was sold out, the audience was amazing and Svavar seemed very relaxed. Like in Gera, a month before, Conny was a guest singer. It was a wonderful night – einfach zauberhaft!

It’s a relatively short trip from Weimar to Dresden, so I could sleep in (which these days means 8 am), get a good breakfast and make my way to the train station around noon. Arrived in Dresden in the early afternoon, checked in and met up with Conny for a chat. We even had rooms next to each other. When she left for soundcheck I had some time to relax before heading to the concert. When I arrived I did not yet know it was going to take place at the theater, because it was supposed to be outside originally. The organizers had feared it would rain though and moved it. It was a beautiful location and the stage was nicely decorated with a carpet and some lamps.

Svavar immediately like the theater too and started with telling us that this was his longest tour ever and how he had played 37 gigs in Iceland to prepare for this, mostly in small villages. I laughed especially hard when he said hey were not “Of Monsters and Men” people but “JaJa Ding Dong”-people. 😀 Thus, the first sog was to honor the fishing villages and his grandmother by playing a song about the Ocean.

He told us how he rediscovered ‘Your Love was Death to me’ because one of his friends covered it at a concert. Before he played it he told us that hope is central to everything he does, but once was in the mood to wrote a sad song and this one, about a toxic relationship, came out. Sad as it may be, I really like it. To recover from the sadness we got a happy song next, ‘Morgúnn’, “my favorite time of day… to sleep through” and we got to hear about everything he loves about mornings. 🙂

We heard about the re-discovery of another old song through the zoom concerts he played and musings about his father. ‘Hard Things’ was just as lovely as the previous day and I was happy to hear it once again. 🙂 Again he talked about differences between languages again, from trees to mountains and he showed us how songs about mountains would sound in different languages by making them up on the spot. Also, apparently Iceland has 37 words for states of being drunk. 😉 ‘Undir Birkitré’ lead to a great sing-along and the we got to hear ‘Tiger and Bear’. Again he fucked it up, first with the capo on the wrong fret and then momentarily forgetting the lyrics. I’m sorry for laughing, but it was really funny. 😀

He spoke about enjoying to stay home during Covid times and having time to do things like paint. Somehow we got to the ‘Song about the Raven’ that he rewrote and he told us about the lyrics and how he loves raves, because they are friendly and socialist creatures. Then he talked about his raven friends and how he speaks to them – so I guess he does not only speak whale but raven too? 😉

‘The Curtain’ was next and I could see everything he describes there as well as feel it. This is exactly what it is like when you miss someone and everything reminds you of them. He told us a story about playing at Kulturbrauerei in Berlin and hearing about “3 Gs” (geimpft, genesen, getested), so he joked about how everything yu have done in Germany starts with “ge-” like gegessen (eaten), getrunken (drank) or gesungen (sung) so “3 Gs” is nothing special. It could be compared to “3 Eds” in English: test-ED, vaccinate-ED, recover-ED. Even though I consider the “3 Gs” very important, I can still laugh about this. 😀 However, the “3 W” (Weltschmetz, Waldeinsamkeit and Wanderlust” are much more interesting and so the last song before the break was ‘Wanderlust’.

The second half of the show started with ‘Vetrarsól’ and heard about the winter sun in Iceland only coming up over the horizon to quickly say “Fuck you Iceland” and then leave again, while in summer the sun is like the one party guest who does not want to leave. 😀 He is so right about the winter sun being beautiful. Svavar told us about toying with the idea of making an album with folk songs in different languages and how different languages have heir own melody. To show us, he played Brahms’ ‘In stiller Nacht’

Next it was Conny’s turn to join him on stage for three songs. ‘Emotional Anorexic’ was the first one and it sounds even better with harmonies. <3 Before ‘While the World burns’ he had to mention how boring he finds love songs and thus he had to write this one about dying together. It sounded amazing. He claimed the third song, ‘Baby would you marry me’ was written out of anger, turned into love. It worked well, I’d say. I loved hearing Conny sing with Svavar again. These songs are always beautiful, but guest singers always take them up a notch. 🙂

We got a little history lesson about Iceland in the late 19th/ early 20th century when freedom meant going to America and how terrible the situation had been before they could leave and how 30000 Icelanders went to America, with 300 accidentally ending up in Brazil, where there is still an Icelandic village in the mountains. The song was ‘Hope and Fortune’, co-written with Irish Mythen. This one is definitely on my list of favorites. :’)

Svavar talked about how everyone but him hates January and November and how you start to appreciate light and warmth when everything is cold and dark. He compared them to the beginning and end of a theater play, new beginnings and the wow-moment when it’s over. He then played the songs for both months. ‘November’ especially is a song I love a lot. The concert ended with ‘Girl from Vancouver’ and Svavar declaring his love for his ukulele.

Of course we asked for more and he gladly obliged. He was telling us about having a drunk conversation with a good friend that resulted in him stopping to wear his vest and bowtie. Then he had tow ABBA songs for us, the beautiful ‘Like an angel waling through the Room’ being the first. 🙂 Before ‘When all is said and done’ he spoke about his attraction to Pierce Brosnan and what it does to him. 😀 Both songs are great, I think I really ned to get that Abba album.

Finally, after much cheering, we got stories about a childhood on a farm and watching the Muppet Show in black and white, followed by a great rendition of ‘Mana Mana’ to which we all happily sang along. Svavar got so into it, he broke a string on his ukulele. 😀 We cheered even more, but it as already 11 pm, so the show really ended there!

Downstairs, there was an after party going on, where Svavars friend Uwe was the DJ and played all the songs from my youth. Conny and I were dancing before going outside and sitting down with some people she knew. Svavar joined us eventually and even searched youTube for the movie that contained ‘Mana Mana’ to show it to us. We all had a really nice evening.

Setlist

“Song about the Ocean”
Your Love was Death to me
Morgúnn
Hard Things
Undir Birkitré
Tiger and Bear
Song about the Raven (Icelandic)
The Curtain
Wanderlust

Vetrarsól
In stiller Nacht (Johannes Brahms)
Emotional Anorexic
While the World burns
Baby, would you marry me?
Hope and Fortune
Janúar
November
Girl from Vancouver

Like an Angel walking through the Room (ABBA)
When all is said and done (ABBA)

Mana Mana