Árstíðir – The Macbeth, London; January 26th, 2019
“Yesterday was an eight on a ten scale, today was at least a ten, maybe even an eleven!” is what I said to Ragnar after the Árstíðir show in London and it was absolutely true. It was one of those rare nights were things fall into place in such a way that everything fits and nothing can destroy the good mood or the beauty of it all. This, right then and there was the Nivalis concert I had wanted and I am sure the band felt it too. It made me really proud of them and left me smiling like a loon.
The night in Manchester had been horrible. My bed was uncomfortable, the room was cold and outside it was so noisy that I barely slept. Luckily the trip to London went smoothly and I even had time to rest a little bit once I arrived at my hostel there. Around 4 I made my way towards Shoreditch to meet up with L. and M. we had some delicious Korean food for dinner, then checked on the venue, because it was unclear if they would open at 6 or at 7. It was still closed so we went up the road for tea and coffee.
I went back shortly after six and the doors were open so I got the others and we went back. L. and T. had just arrived as well. Unfortunately the open doors had been a misunderstanding and it was not supposed to open until 7 after all. Since it was raining and Ragnar was there to let in the others we got lucky and were allowed to get in too. 🙂 During sound check we sat on a sofa in the back, listening. The sound was brilliant and I already liked the place. After sound check more people had arrived and since it was still raining, they were allowed in as well. Once the doors opened for real, I went to the front, together with V., whom I’d seen at their last London solo gig and we started chatting. More people arrived and to my right stood a guy I’d met at Iceland Airwaves a couple of years ago. Always the same faces. 😉
They started a little late, but as soon as they stepped on stage the audience moved closer to the front. Thankfully that warmed up the venue that had been a bit chilly before. From the first note I sang along and so did V. next to me. She was already swaying with the music, eyes closed at times. I kept mine open mostly, because for once the band wasn’t in the dark and the light wasn’t red only so I could take some pictures. 😀 I already knew then that it was going to be good, because the sound was brilliant even at the front and the audience was into it from the start. They listened to the songs quietly and they cheered loudly in-between. 🙂
The guys were really relaxed that night, wearing smiled ion their faces, looking like they were enjoying the hell out of this. I felt good vibes all around, smiling at anyone who looked at me and once more being completely caught up in the music. Standing at the center I had a great view of Guillaume and watched his fingers dance across the strings of his cello for much of the night. For once, the big microphone they use for the acoustic set had been moved out of the way and didn’t stand in my line of sight. Jean-Samuel was blocked by Gunnar at times, but I got to see a lot of him too and the others were in plain sight anyway.
Everything was beautiful and I noticed I was slowly getting better at the lyrics. ‘While this Way’ and ‘Lover’ were easy. Not only do I love both, but have heard them live many times. Both were wonderful , but I loved all the other songs as well. ‘Please help me’ was great and I almost mastered the lyrics. Again, I tried my best with the Icelandic songs, but I only vocalize what I hear and still draw a blank for much of them. It is fun though and I keep telling myself that I am slowly getting better.
One of the songs sounded a little bit off at the start, I think it might have been ‘Mute’, but soon the sound was back to great. ‘in the Wake of you’ just made me smile, even though I can’t really relate to al of it. I still feel the song though. ‘Þar sem enginn fer’ truly rocked and ‘Shades’ pretty much brought the house down. The guys were really into it and so was I, swaying with the music.
During the break L. and M. told me how much they were enjoying the show and they even went and bought T-Shirts. Success! M. mentioned that he especially liked the songs with lots of cello – you and me both! 😀 we talked about lots of bands while we waited for this one to return and time passed quickly.
Árstíðir were back with ‘Sunday Morning’ and I choked up during it, very nearly bursting into tears. It felt good, I have not cried at one of their gigs in a while, at least not for the right reasons. There music has always moved me though and when it moved me to tears the show is a special one. ‘Kill us’ was brilliant. Before the song they joked that they didn’t mean it literally and it was just a metaphor, so if we would please not do it. We all laughed. Until that moment I’d never thought about the song that way and now I cannot get it out of my head. 😉
Not long before the show started the venue had still felt somewhat empty, but many arrived just in time for the concert. People were soon drawn closer by the music and stood all around the stage. There was a good energy in the room and it felt like the audience and the band really connected. Everything flowed nicely, they didn’t have to work hard to capture our atention and for our willingness to listen they rewarded us with a wonderful performance.
The second half of the concert always feels longer, even though it contains the same number of songs. Maybe I just count the encores in. 😉 It’s a good thing though, as their shows can never be too long for me. 😀 After the acoustic set Gunnar explained about quantum entanglement again, but somehow started in the middle, saying that it baffles scientists, before getting around to telling us what it actually is. Many people nodded though when he talked about how it seems to work on a big scale. He said that we have written off telepathy as an explanation, but there still seems to be some connection. Makes sense to me and the song is always amazing. <3
Ragnar spoke about the meaning of “nivalis” and how you can use “snowlike” as a metaphor for many things, an example of which being the song ‘Like Snow’. It made me sigh happily. 🙂 Then, he raised his bottle to us, saying cheers and asking if we knew how to say it in Icelandic. several people said “Skál” so he translated that it means “bowl” and joked how it said somethings about Icelandic drinking habits. Daníel noted very gravely: “It was the bowl of the skull of your dead enemies!” – I’ve heard that before, i.e, how in old times Vikings drank from the skulls of their enemies after battle, but it still made me laugh.
People also laughed when they challenged us to pronounce ‘Friðþægingin’ correctly and said some had tried and failed in Manchester. 😉 The beautiful ‘Himinhvel’ and a rocking ‘Things you said’ followed without introduction. Next, Ragnar spoke about doing crazy things for art and how they transported a 100 kilo chunk of ice up on a glacier. He added how they’d frozen a heart into the polar bear sculpture made of ice. When he mentioned the heart, Daníel quipped “for morality!”. It made everyone laugh. He was in a great mood that night, always making funny comments. His answer to people raising their hands to the question who spoke Icelandic was telling “you can ask them about the lyrics later!”
Again, Ragnar mentioned how they did not get an encore for three nights in a row until they dropped a hint about it in Manchester. People responded that of course the UK does encores so Gunnar joked “Then it’s us!” The last song was lovely and as they walked off stage and we cheered for more, L. suggested that people might not have done that in other cities, because it was a show in two parts and the second half could have been one long encore.
The guys came back without Jean-Samuel and gathered around the double microphone so I knew they were not going to play ‘Nú gleymist ‘eg’ just yet. Someone asked “Are we in a train station somewhere?” and they responded that it wasn’t going to be the train station song. Instead they gave us a perfect rendition of ‘Jólabæn einstæðingsins’ during which you could have heard a pin drop. Gunnar even asked us if we usually got this quiet on a Saturday night. ‘Nú gleymist ég’ followed and would have been the perfect ending already, but we cheered more and they walked into the crowd for ‘Góda veslu göra skal’. What a great finale that was. <3
We stayed, we chatted, I hugged them, told them how amazing the show was and that to me it was the best one so far. They all felt the same. Finally, we said goodbye and L., M, V. and I went out for after show drinks. It was lovely to just hang out and digest all we’d seen and heard. Surely this was a night to remember.
While this Way
Please Help me
Ljóð í sand
Vetur að vori
In the Wake of You
Þar sem enginn fer
Things You Said
Nú gleymist ég
Góda veslu göra skal
Nivalis winter tour: 4 gigs down, 9 to go. Next stop: Wuppertal