Tie whipping, crawling through legs and filming solos

Poets of the Fall – Rockhall, Esch-sur-Alzette; September 24th, 2022

The Poets of the Fall show in Esch-sur-Alzette was one I had not originally planned on attending, but then decided somewhere in August that it needed to be added to my list. It urned out to be the right decision – the gig was amazing and very relaxed. Good times!

After a nice breakfast with my guests from the previous night’s gig, I made my way to the train station and from there to Luxembourg. Halfway there I got a sor throat and momentarily feared i might have Covid again. Tested when I got there and felt relived to get a negative result. Onwards to Esch-sur-Alzette, where I arrived to find a small group of people already waiting. We chatted for a while, got bored with waiting, chatted some more with the new people who arrived. The usual. My friend B. joined me and I finally got rid of my back pack, leaving it in her car.

Eventually we got in and were held up for a bit because the ticket scanners did not work properly. There were around 40 people in line at the time, so we still got in rather quickly and found a nice spot on Olli’s side. The hall is quite big, so we felt a bit alone for a while, but then more people arrived and filled the space behind us.

This time there were only 30 minutes between doors and show start, so Bomber were on stage soon. Finally they had managed to make the sound better and I could understand what the singer was saying and even some of the lyrics. That made it so much better. They were definitely a lot less boring than in Cologne and I even had some fun clapping along. It was nice to finally see and hear what they can do. Already during their set I noticed how great the lights were at the venue and this time there wasn’t a fog machine either. 😀

It still felt like they’d been ripped straight out of the 80ies, around the time Europe was popular and dropped in 2022 – the hair, the outfits (I do appreciate silver glitter shoes!) and the posing really spoke to me. Nothing wrong with a good rock pose while playing guitar. 😀 I had fun watching them and that’s what  I’d come for. Decided then and there to gvem them a chance and buy their album.

Setlist

Intro
Zarathustra
Black Pants Magic
The Tiger
You’ve got Demons
Titans
Fever Eyes

When we had entered the rather big hall with maybe 50 people, I’d feared this might not be enough to make a good concert, but more people arrived and in the end all that matter that those who made it to the show are into it and they were, we were. From the moment the intro music started and the guys walked out one by one, I had a really good feeling about this gig and I was right.

I loved the fact that all of the guys were well lit for once and I could even see captain and Tuomas clearly. Being on Ollie’s side gave me a good view at some great guitar action and I had missed that. No throwing shade at Jaska though – his guitar playing is just as much fun to watch. Already during ‘Requiem for my Harlequin’ Marko snuck up on Ollie to look over his shoulder and admire him form up close. All with a  cheeky grin on his face that made expect some shenanigans like turning some of the controllers on the guitar. Ollie, however, remained completely unfazed and just continued playing. 😀 Meanwhile, Jani posed for the photographers at the front, kneeling down and looking directly into their lenses.

During ‘Dreaming wide awake’, Ollie stood with Captain and Jaska played with one foot on each of the raisers. When the “I can’t let you go” line came along I looked straight at Ollie and pointed to all of them – he responded with a smile. <3 There was some nice synchronicity of Captain leaning back at the keyboards while Jaska and Ollie raised their guitar necks. When Ollie jumped off, it looked like he was hanging in the air for a moment and the lights shining on him could have well been energy rays from a space ship in the process of abducting him. 😉 Side stage, I caught a glimp se of Glen, who was not only taking pictures, but filming with his phone as well.

‘Temple of Thought’ was a heartfelt performance, with Marko crouching down at the edge of the stage, looking at the audience. On the final line of “You can let go of your fears”, him and Ollie both pointed at Captain. We got a brilliant ‘Rogue’; where they all motioned for us to clap along before they got really into it. I can never get enough of them showing off, but at the same tome giving each other room to play and  always pointing to direct our eyes towards the person we should be watching.

For ‘Firedancer’, Marko decided to take off his tie, walk up to Jaska and whip him with it until Jaska turned to face him. Marko ended up leaning against his shoulder for a moment. ‘My Dark Disquiet’ brought Jani and Ollie playing side by side, watching each other work and later standing in a circle with Jaska, fist-bumping after their part was done. Ollie later moved on to play with Captain and laid his head down on the keyboard. That night, I suddenly remembered lyrics to the new songs that I hadn’t know before. Where they came from, I don’t know, but I was happy to sing along. Later on I even did it in French. 😉

During ‘Sounds of yesterday’ I enjoyed watching Captain who was based in light and later could not help but say “awww” when I saw Jani and Marko standing with their heads together, leaning into each other in a hug. At one point Marko put his hand on his chest and bowed to us before moving to the back and giving the rest of the band room to play. ‘Choice Millionaire’ then was a lot of jumping and I think it might have been here that Marko managed to get the entire audience to do it. Either way, the song was a lot of fun and I never knew where to look, because all of the guys were going wild and I’m sure I missed a few cool moments. I know Marko made rabbit ears for Ollie when he saw someone take pictures. 😀

They guys were on a roll now and when Ollie was playing a solo for ‘Chasing Echoes’, Jani knelt down behind him, sticking half his bass through his legs and still playing it. Later, somewhere in the encore, he stuck his bass through Captain’s legs and then decided to crawl through. Jani also messed up Marko’s hair while he stood with him. 😀 Towards the end of the song, Marko decided not only watch Ollie closely, but to film him with his phone.

When ‘Stay forever’ came around, Captain got the chance to sit down for a while and sat on the keyboard raiser in front, where Ollie and Jani joined him until he had to get up and play again. I had an unhindered view of Tuomas for a while and enjoyed watching him play. A bit later, I saw Jani stand with Jaska and placing his head on Jaska’s shoulders. when Ollie was playing his final solo, most of the others sat on the keyboard raiser watching him. We got a nice sing-along going too. <3

They walked off and we cheered loudly for them. I’m not kidding myself into believing they would not come back if we didn’t, but it feels so much better when we do. I looked over at B., remembering it was her first Poets show after Covid and she was clearly enjoying it. Jani walked out first and sat down at the edge of the stage, playing bass. I got my phone ready to switch the light on at Marko’s command. He asked us to create a starry night and then sang ‘Partir avec moi’ instead of the English version. I had forgotten a French version even existed until someone had asked about it outside. I like the song either way so it worked well for me and the Luxembourg audience appreciated a song in their native tongue.

During ‘Daze’ (I think), Marko was sweeping the floor with the mic stand in front of Jaska and later he and Ollie were chasing each other around stage. It was really funny. Somewhere during lift, my SD card was full and I had not brought a spare. Didn’t have time to change it either, so I continued taking pictures with my phone, while trying not to miss the “on and on and on” move and still catching Ollie’s jump. 😀 I can also remember the guys standing together and playing side by side.

I think it might have been ‘Carnival of Rust’ where Tupomas got up and played the drum standing up for a bit. And of course we got to see Glen and Ollie exchanging guitars with a bow. Everyone was bowing to Ollie during his ‘Lift solo’ too and a moment later they did the same for Tuomas. I love how much they show appreciation for each other. Somewhere during the encores, Marko leaned forward and shook hands with people at the font so I stretched until I could reach him. 🙂 At the end, I got a  handshake from Ollie too. <3

They bowed to us, mouthing “thank you”, hugging each other and lifting each other in the air before we took a final picture with them. One last look, a wave and they were gone. We hung out for a bit, chatting, talking to Bomber at the merch table, saying hello to Jani, who came out to mingle and finally saying goodbye. In the car on the way home, we agreed it had been a great show and lots of fun.

Setlist

Requiem for my Harlequin
Dreaming wide awake
Temple of Thought
Rogue
Firedancer
My Dark Disquiet
Sounds of yesterday
Choice Millionaire
Chasing Echoes
Stay forever

Partir avec moi
Daze
Lift
Carnival of Rust

Ghostlight fall tour: Six gigs down, three to go. Next stop: Vienna

We all have been waiting too long…

Árstíðir – Konzerthaus Dortmund; September 23rd, 2022

Ever since seeing Árstíðir for the first time in 2012, I was hoping they’d play in Dortmund one day. Finally, 10 years, 210 concerts and over 300 000 kilometers later it happened and was everything I could have hoped for. Their show at Konzerthaus Dortmund was among the best I have seen and left me truly happy. I knew it was going to be a special show, but did not expect it to be this special.

It had been a long time coming with this concert. It was originally planned for May 2020 and after being moved to the fall of the same year, it eventually got cancelled due to Covid. I was really happy when they put it back on this year, but also cursed my fate, because I already had tickets for two (!!) concerts on that same date. It was still an easy decision, there was no way for me not to be there.

Having gotten home at 3 am and getting merely 6 hours of sleep before the show wasn’t ideal, but as soon as my friends P. and I. arrived I forgot all about that. We had dinner and a nice chat before we left and it felt utterly weird to go to a concert so late, but with assigned seats it was easy. The concert hall had always seemed more like an auditorium to me, but this evening it had a red backdrop and nice lights so it looked much better than I remembered. At was nicely filled too. 🙂

After walking on stage and taking their spots, Ragnar introduced them and told us what to expect: Mostly Icelandic songs from all their albums, some stories and a few traditional songs. He also expressed how long they had been waiting for this show to happen. They started with ‘Himnhvel’ and it already proved just how good the sound was. The song is always gorgeous, but this performance was flawless. What a great start! 😀

‘Hvenær kemur sól’ was next and from then on I knew everything was going to be perfect that night. I was already loving it. Daníel talked about waiting for the sun to come out in many ways in March 2020. Gunnar added that staying inside a lot during the pandemic they had time to write songs for two albums.

‘Silfurskin’ was a pleasant surprise for me and brought tears to my eyes. It’s just so beautiful. <3 When Ragnar asked how many people speak Icelandic only Gunnar raised his hand. Daníel then asked who owned an Icelandic horse and apparently one hand went up so Ragnar joked that in Oldenburg two days ago everyone had Icelandic horses. 😉

Of course they had to play their just released single ‘Later on’, another song that really gets to me. I cannot explain why, but it touches me in many ways, musically even more than lyrically. They got up and gathered around the stereo mic. Ragnar asked who had seen them before and as far as I could tell there were more people in the room who had not. He explained about their beginnings on Daníel’s couch and they sang ‘Glitsky’ for us. I had already noticed in Oldenburg that they have given up on asking if we wanted to hear the Icelandic or English version. 😉

Gunnar told us how they had listened to Crosby, Stills & Nash and Simon & Garfunkel a lot and made an Icelandic version of ‘Helplessly Hoping’. We learned that ‘Með hallandi höfði’ means “with a leaning head” and that the song was never released on an album, but the demo was played on Icelandic radio and became really popular. Small wonder, it is beautiful and so was the performance.

Ragnar taught us Icelandic and we did really well on saying ‘Skál’. 😀 Gunnar talked about the next song, being based on a melody Ragnar wrote and how he found the words to it when he was traveling in Japan and literally had none, because he does not speak Japanese and was in the company of someone, who was fluent, so he only spoke to said person for two weeks and felt ‘Mute’. It has got to be strange. I’ve been to many countries, where I don’t speak the language, but there was always someone who spoke English so I can’t really relate.

We heard about driving along the Westfjords in zig-zag, which inspired DAníel to write ‘Þar sem enginn fer’. Ragnar said anyone who’s driven there should understand it is a good time for contemplating life. I really love that song and it puts a big smile on my face every time I hear it, especially because the music is so dramatic. Great strings too.

We heard about Icelandic songs being melancholic in general and how a love poem becomes more dramatic, when it is written into black sand. It was the introduction to ‘Ljoð í sand’, which was lovely. ‘Týndur’ followed, one of my favorites on ‘Pendúll’. <3 As an introduction they spoke about time becoming relative during the pandemic years and how that became an inspiration for the songs. Then they played ‘Endatafl’ too. <3 Ragnar explained that it refers to the final game of chess and this song is about a man and the chess game is his life with te time running out on the clock.  Wow. Not for the first time that night I sighed happily.

At one point, I. even asked me “You are quite satisfied, aren’t you?” Hell yes. This was everything I had hoped for any more. What a wonderful, magical show. I know I say that a lot and it must seem like an exaggeration at times. Yet it isn’t. They really are just that good. These are the concerts I live for, the ones that pick me up and carry me on a wave of joy. These are the ones that make me come back.

‘Nú gleymist ég’ was next and again I waited for Gunnar to drop his voice down to a whisper and then belting out the next line. He never fails me and it is still as wonderfully dramatic as it was the very first time he did it. I love every second of the song, but this is absolutely my favorite part. <3 Gunnar thanked Guillaume and Jean-Samuel especially and they got extra cheers before getting a little break. Ragnar talked about the inspiration for ‘Nú gleymist #eg’ being an avalanche and how many themes in music are about death, even the nursery rhymes.

Gunnar continued with the story of Gísli á Uppsölm, who lived alone for decades, before a famous TV personality, Ómar Ragnarsson interviewed him. After Gisli died, that he found poems in his house and wrote music for it, which is how ‘Bæn einstæðingsins’ came about and they sang it for us, all three gathered around the double microphones. I got goose bumps. 🙂 Then Gunnar told us the story about singing a song at a train station that changed their lives and Guillaume joined them for ‘Heyr, hymna smiður’, which was just as amazing.

Jean-Samuel was back on stage too for a trip back to the first album and more stories about Daníel’s infamous home-brewed wine. Daníel spoke about the labels and everything and the wine racks he had bought and then only making one batch of wine because it was just too bad. Cool name though, “El Daníelo” 😀 ‘you just have to know of me’ may be old, but it is still great. I especially like the intro of strings and piano.

We got ‘Næturylur’ afterwards and I could not remember when I had last heard it. Maybe at the anniversary gig for the first album? I really loved having it in the set. Daníel told us that it used to be called ‘Struggle’ and with english lyrics, but they felt it sounded better in Icelandic. They also told us about writing songs in two languages and how it’s a different feeling and energy in each language.

With ‘Heiðin’ they spoke about the bank crash in Iceland and the contests for songs about hope which they did not win with this entry. Surprise. 😀 Still a great song! After all the melancholia they changed the tune with ‘Bringing back the Feel’. Gunnar pointed out that the pandemic had taught them not to take themselves so seriously and write happy songs if they felt like it, so they did. It was great fun as always. 😀

‘While this Way’ came as a surprise this time, because I had thought they might drop it for another Icelandic song. All the better they did not. <3 The last song before the encores was of course ‘Shades’. Before it, Ragnar instructed us to say “awww” when he announced the last song and the audience’ response was next to perfect. The song was performed brilliantly and they got standing ovations. 😀

We cheered and clapped until they came back. They thanked everyone for making the show happen and how they enjoyed it. The concert ended with ‘Things you said’ and finally ‘Góða veislu gjöra skal’ – let’s party like it’s 1599as they put it. When it was over, I realized they had played for almost 2 hours. Wow, longest show I have seen I think and as good as it gets.

Afterwards we went and had a brief chat with them. I was just going to ask about ‘Siðasta Kveðjan’, which I was sure I had heard them rehearse in Oldenburg, when Ragnar told me they tried, but were not feeling it. The show was still absolutely brilliant and the guys were exhausted but happy. I hugged everyone who wanted to be hugged, thanked them and said goodbye until the next time.

Once back at my place, P., I. and I had our own little after party and talked well into the night.

Setlist

Himinhvel
Hvenær kemur sól
Silfurskin
Later on
Glitsky
Með hallandi höfði
Mute
Þar sem enginn fer
Ljoð í sand
Týndur
Endatafl
Nú ggleymist ég
Bæn einstæðingsins
Heyr, hymna smiður
You just have to know of me
Næturylur
Heiðin
Bringing back the feel
While this way
Shades

Things you said
Góða veislu gjöra skal