Switched languages, two sets of keys and YMCA

Árstíðir – SAS, Déleémont; December 4th, 2022

It was a long trip to see Árstíðir in Delemont, but well worth it. At a small venue with a dedicated sound guy they gave a great performance. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My day started early and while I was on the first train, I decided to rebook everything, hoping to get there earlier than I had planned. My original train was without any changes in Germany, but would notget me there until 16:30 and the show was at 18:00. Changes in Germany are always risky, especially with short connection times, but If all went well I was going to gain two hours. So I rebooked and somehow managed all the changes.

Had a bit of trouble finding the hotel, because oddly, my Internet wasn’t working so I could not really navigate with Google maps. Note to self: Offline maps! Got there eventually, checked in, had to wait another half hour to be able to pay and left shortly after 4, since the venue was supposed to open at 5 and I was hoping to find food on the way. All te restaurants were closed though and when I finally found a place that was open, t was too late to eat. Food postponed until after the show.

In Twist, Ragnar had told me they were only allotted one hour of time, so I wondered which songs they would keep. I walked in to hear the last of the soundcheck, then greeted Guillaume, Jean-Samuel and Ragnar, who were still on stage after they were done. It was standing room only and rather small, but the lights were colorful and the sound really good. Jean-Samuel’s parents were there to watch, but other than that I didn’t see any familiar faces. When Malko placed the setlists on stage I saw they had all of the songs listed on them so it was going to be a full concert after all.

The band stepped on stage pretty much on time and started without any introductions. The sound was clear and crisp, louder than the previous day, but not overwhelming. I instantly liked it. Only after ‘Ljóð í sand’, Ragnar made the usual introductions and Gunnar announced ‘Hvenær kemur sól’ telling us it means “when does the sun come out” and how that is a common question to ask in winter in Iceland. “Here too,” someone from the audience replied. The first block of songs concluded with ‘Ages’. I think of it as the “old songs” before we get into the newr stuff, but it isn’t true, since ‘Hvenær kemur sól’ is very new. It just fits in so well with the songs from the first two albums.

I always love the glorious ‘Endatafl’ and with all the other Icelandic songs I sing along to the best of my abilities. I’m sure what I sing doesn’t have much to do with the original. 😉 As Ragnar announced ‘Later on’, he said “We naturally write in English and Swedish” then corrected himself. It was funny. For the song Gunnar grabbed the small keyboard and played it. That felt new, but I wasn’t sure so I had to go back to pictures from the other gigs to see it wasn’t there. These two songs in combination are a highlight for me at every show. <3

Daníel introduced ‘Passion’ saying they sometimes joke about it being called “The Passion of Christ”, but that hit really had nothing to do with Christ or Christmas and was a song to themselves. “There are only so many ex-girlfriends to write songs about,” Ragnar quipped and Gunnar added “and you can only write three songs per Ex-girlfriend at the most”. It made me giggle and shake my head at the same time. 😀

“Close your eyes and imagine floating in space,”Ragnar told us for ‘Shine’. It sure fits and yet, I have so many other associations with the song. It sounded powerful that night. ‘While this way’ brought us back to this world, if to the edge of it. These two songs work well together and afterwards we got a final high with ‘Shades’. 😀

When Jean-Samuel and Guillaume stepped back on stage after the break, hardly anyone took notice so Jean-Samuel grabbed a mik and announced the song they were going to play. I didn’t understand anything but “good evening” and “Icelandic song” though, because he did it in French. Now they had everyone’s attention and ‘Heyr, hymna smiður’ was beautiful.

The instrumental had kicked off the Christmas songs, continued with the Sweidish ‘Gläns över sjö och strand’ and the Icelandic jazz standard ‘Jólin alls staðar’. That took us to the a cappella part of the show and Gunnar explaining that Iceland had too few trees to build instruments and thus they developed a tradition of singing together without them. They sure sounded beautiful together. I can’t even say which of the three songs I like best. The combination is perfect.

‘Allt er hljótt’ started with a glitch and having to start again. It was amazing as always, I am really liking it more very night. For ‘Ró’ they had two sets of key this time – the piano and the keyboard Gunnar had used for ‘Later on’. It sounded great that way too. After ‘Things you said’, they brought us ‘Silent Night’ with the third verse in French this time and all of them sang it. I didn’t understand much, but still enough to realize the lyrics differ a lot from the German version.

For a moment I was afraid people would just stop clapping and not call for an encore, but they sure did. 😀 Once the band was back, Gunnar told us he really wanted to learn French now and Daníel joked that his most used FRench word on the tour was ‘aléz’, becuas ethe French guys were always late.

We got all the ‘Bringing back the Feel’ fun. For the second time, just like at the show in Twist, someone called out “YMCA” when Ragnar put on the hat. Again I wondered why. It does not look like a police hat to me. Since I as standing up, the song had me moving in place. It’s hard to stand or sit still while hearing it. 🙂 The grand finale was ‘And so it goes’, sung in the crowd – it was gorgeous. 😀

Before they went to pack their stff I said hello to most of the guys, hugged some and told them I had liked it a lot. Also told the sound guy he’d done a great job. They had all started earlier than I had and were tired. Next order of business for them was dinner so I wished them a good night and left to find some food as well. I succeeded eventually was happy to get an early night. More tomorrow…

Setlist

Ljóð í sand
Hvenær kemur sól
Ages
Endatafl
Later On
Passion
Shine
While this way
Shades

Heyr, hymna smiður – strings only
Gläns över sjö och strand
Jólin alls staðar
Hátið fer að höndum ein
Ísland farsældafrón
Góða veislu gjöra skal
Allt er hljótt

Things you said
Heims um ból

Bringing back the feel
And so it goes

Vetrarsól tour 2022 – four gigs down, ten to go. Next stop: Cologne

And for a magical moment time stands still

Árstíðir – Heimathaus Twist; December 3rd, 2022

Heimathaus Twist, in the middle of nowhere, proved to be the perfect concert location and gave me my best show on the Vetrarsól tour so far. The sound was leagues better than the previous day and everything else just fell into place, so I fully enjoyed every bit of it. The band had gotten into the grove as well and seemed very relaxed and happy from the start.

It was a long trip from Flensburg to Meppen, where our hotel was, but we got a good start with a nice breakfast, which made the delays on the way more bearable. In the end, we got there almost on time, checked in and had a few minutes to get ready before catching the last bus of the day that went to Twist. Once arrived, we searched for food and found a good pizza near the venue.

No longer hungry, we walked over to the venue and got in right away. The room looked cozy, with lots of Christmas lights and there was a large Vetrarsól banner at the back of the stage. I felt right at home. We chose our seats, got drinks and waited for he show to start. The lights looked definitely nicer than the ones in Flensburg so we hoped the sound would be better as well.

They walked on stage shortly after 8 and told us what to expect of the show – we’d spend the first half in Árstíðir land and would the get to hear Christmas songs in part two. Already with ‘Ljóð í sand’ we knew that the sound was leagues better than it had been in Flensburg. Every instrument was clearly distinguishable and the mix was just right. What a difference that made! It sounded so good I forgot about taking pictures at times.

Daníel explained what ‘Hvenær kemur sól’ was about and then I drifted along with the beautiful melody, letting my mind and body relax into the music. I especially loved the strings and the fact that I could hear the guitars so clearly. 🙂 After a lovely version of ‘Ages’ Ragnar told us that they write in two languages because their country is so small and everyone laughed when he said “We all know each other”. All that lead to talking about their first only Icelandic album and playing ‘Endatafl’. It was a gorgeous version. <3

Gunnar told us how they had nothing to do during Covid but write music and how the next album would only be in English. The band gave us a preview with ‘Later on’. It makes me so happy despite being dark – the music just really speaks to me. They delivered it perfectly that night.

We  got ‘Passion’ with more great work from Jean-Samuel and Guillaume and then ‘Shine’ where Ragnar really emphasized the quiet passages in contrast with the more powerful ones. It worked well. <3 Before, he claimed that he had dreamed of becoming an astronaut as a kid and wanted to apply for the first mission to mars until he realized he’d miss German beer too much. 😀

‘While this way’, was is and always will be amazing. There are no bounds to how much I love this song and I cannot imagine ever getting tired of it. The underlying beat had my heart beat in tune with it. For ‘Shades’ I got up so I could take some pictures from the central aisle, where all of the guys were visible. I always love watching the guys go all in for the song. It rocked!

When Guillaume and Jean-Samuel stepped on stage for the second set, it took a while for people to settle down, but they waited just long enough before they started so we could hear all of ‘Heyr, hymna smiður’ – it sounded beautiful and they got well deserved cheers for it. The song felt shorter to me than it had the previous times, but I don’t know if I’m right.

Ragnar told us how many Icelanders move abroad to study and growing up in Sweden, before playing ‘Gläns över sjö och strand’ for us. Then we learned about Icelandic Jazz standards, written for Christmas and how this next one will be playing in every home around Christmas. Then he blanked on the name and Gunnar had to add that it’s called ‘Jólin alls staðar’ 🙂 It was lovely.

It was time for the band to gather around the double microphone and Gunnar told us how they did not have instruments in Iceland in the early years and developed a tradition of singing in Icelandic parallel fifth. ‘Hátið fer að höndum ein’ always sounds very serious – I like it a lot. Afterwards, Ragnar explained more about the parallel fifth that developed from Gregorian chants that existed long before music theory was developed in Europe. In Iceland, people stuck with the more traditional singing and the influence can still be heard today. Gunnar and Daníel demonstrated some parallel fifth with ‘Krummavisur’.

They told us that ‘Ísland farsældafrón’ has very poetic and happy lyrics, but doesn’t sound like that. True, it doesn’t sound happy at all, but the song is great. 🙂 Last of the trio was ‘Góða veislu gjöra skal’ of course, an invitation to party. 😀 Gunnar pointed out how Jean-Samuel and Guillaume had to sing too and did a “Pretty decent job” on it. Ragnar joked that they are bringing culture to the band and had introduced them to Bach and Daníel quipped “Without them we’d be savages”. 😀

‘Allt er hljótt’, their own Christmas song, was beautiful. I don’t understand and of it, but it makes me feel like sitting in a warm, candlelit room on a cold winter’s night, looking out the window at the snow. 🙂 ‘Ró’ was next, with Guillaume and Ragnar on the piano. It really is a great piece of music. Many people seem to agree, because it is their most played song on Spotify.

After ‘Things you said’, which gave the string players another chance to shine, only one song was left. They played ‘Heims um ból’ (Silent Night) for us and this time they did the final verse in German, asking everyone to sing along. We gladly obliged and did it so well that they asked us to do it again without any instruments. It sounded amazing!

Did we want an encore? Hell yes! We loudly demanded one! The band was back soon and they had brought props. Ragnar wore a hat for ‘Bringing back the Feel’ and Guillaume put on some cool sunglasses. 😀 Before they started, they asked if we liked the song and had seen the music video. Since we were at “20 questions” Gunnar threw in “What’s your favorite color?” and some people answered that too. Others were just laughing. 😀 While they played, I was standing in that back, moving along with the music. Meanwhile, Jean-Samuel was walking around on stage blowing soap bubbles at the others. 😉

In the end, they gathered around the double microphone once again and sang ‘And so it goes’ for us. It was the perfect ending to a perfect show. Gunnar always says that they will be trying very hard to do the song justice, since the arrangement by the Kin’s Singers is so amazing. I’d say the y managed. <3

Afterwards, we thanked the sound guy and told everyone in the band how great it had been and how much better than Flensburg. I hugged everyone who wanted a hug and in the process someone bumped into Ragnar so he spilled half his wine down my back – good thing the new shirt is red. 😉 we left with a final goodbye and took a pre-arranged taxi back to Twist. There was no other way to get home and the wonderful sow was well worth the extra money we spent. We had a final drink in Meppen and said goodbye. I. is going home and I will continue touring with the guys. 🙂

Setlist

Ljóð í sand
Hvenær kemur sól
Ages
Endatafl
Later On
Passion
Shine
While this way
Shades

Heyr, hymna smiður – strings only
Gläns över sjö och strand
Jólin alls staðar
Hátið fer að höndum ein
Ísland farsældafrón
Góða veislu gjöra skal
Allt er hljótt

Things you said
Heims um ból

Bringing back the feel
And so it goes

Vetrarsól tour 2022 – three gigs down, 11 to go. Next stop: Délémont