Sólstafir – Colloseum, Košice; March 24th, 2019
Even though Sólstafir were touring on their own his time around, I had a feeling one concert would not be enough and searched their tour schedule for the opportunity to see them a second time. After their wonderful show in Bochum I was glad I’d done it and looking forward to the one in Košice. This concert was a completely different affair from the first one, but just as amazing and it left me just as speechless. The room was charged with positve energy the whole time, making me happy despite all the sadness in the songs. It was a great night!
With a mid-day flight I arrived in Košice, found my hotel, rested and met up with K. before the show. there was some confusion as to when the doors were going to open. I had relied on the ticket which announced the start time at 6:30. Luckily K. had checked and fond out that it was actually the time the doors would open. Thus we enjoyed the good weather and took a walk before we got in line. We still were the first people there. The venue was not recognizable as such from the outside and I was glad to be with someone who knew where it was. In the end, they opened shortly before 7, but we got the perfect spot in the front row. We had to walk up and down stair to get in and by then I could not say if the concert hall was actually on street Level or below. Lotta, whom I’d ran into earlier, had described it as a punk rock venue and that’s exactly what it felt like. Cool 😀 The stage was rather high, we could just look on it while standing up.
The show in Bochum had really done me in, being so much more emotional than I had been prepared for. I had walked out of there feeling I would not be able to take any more. That is just the way I like it though – why bother with something that does not move you? So here I was again and gladly admit that I was a little bit afraid, wondering what kind of an emotional rollercoaster this night would bring. Much more so I was excited about the gig and happy to be there. So I got us some drinks and watched as the venue slowly filled up. We were all standing this time so it already felt different than Bochum and the air was charged with anticipation.
The intro started, this time with images being shown on a screen behind the band as the walked out one by one, greeted by our cheers. Right away I noticed how amazing the sound was – every note was perfect. The audience was great too, they really listened. At first though, I had a hard time getting into it, even though the performance was as passionate and powerful as it always is. Therefore, I concentrated on taking pictures at first, trying to capture everyone. I considered walking around to get abetter view of the string players, but I did not want to leave my spot and stayed. Watching the band play was wonderful though, because they were all really into it. So was the audience ad I loved seeing the interactions between them and Addi who leaned out and shook hands or bumped fists from time to time. K., by my side was completely lost in the music. 🙂
Around the time ‘Hula’ rolled around they had me though. I felt the music flow through me, touching my heart. I still have no clue what the songs are about, but they stir up deep emotions. The feelings that come with them are not always happy, yet somehow I also felt safe, like someone telling me it was all going to be OK. It is really hard to explain the appeal of this band with their, you have to see them live. Their music is powerful on CD as well, but when you see them play, watch the emotions on Addi’s face as he sings every word with passion, see Sæþór just stand their calmly, Svavar with his hair flying as he bangs his head to the beat and Hallgrímur delivering said beat with precision, that’s when the true magic unfolds. Now, with the support of Ragnar on keyboards and the string quartet consisting of Rachel, Lotta, Hele and Dalai, delivering the atmospheric undertones to their music, it becomes downright goose bump inducing. At times I was so caught up in the music it was hard to breathe.
Behind us were some Icelanders, who sang along to some of the songs. It added to the general good vibes in the room. Energy was flowing freely between the band and the audience making the experience even better. The band was really tight that night. It’s not like they hadn’t been great at the start of the tour already, but it was palpable that they had grown into the songs, knew their parts and could just follow their emotions and the vibes in the room as they played. I find it difficult to put into words just how beautiful that was. <3 I could hear all the instruments and yet all the parts came together seamlessly, forming a much bigger whole. Time seemed to go really quickly. I was surprised when I heard Addi say there would be a short intermission. In the background, on the screen, some movie scenes were playing while we waited for them to come back.
The string quartet was back on stage first, playing a beautiful intro that sent shivers down my spine. It was the perfect start to the even more emotional second half. They continued right into ‘Lágnætti’ and by then I was even more caught up in the music than I’d already been. There is no way not to be drawn in by it. ‘Hvít sæng’ was amazing as well and I was smiling. This show overall had more of a fun vibe than the one in Bochum which felt more serious somehow. Maybe the audience was just a little more laid back or the band just a little more relaxed than at the beginning of the tour. When the song was over there was a short pause during which the Icelanders behind us asked Addi if they were going to do ‘Fjara’ and were satisfied to get a positive answer.
For a moment it was a bit noisy in the audience, but when Addi stepped up to the mic and greeted everyone’s attention was immediately back with the band. We cheered, then we listened and as he introduced ‘Necrologue’ by talking about their friend Kiddi, who could not take the darkness of depression any more and ended his own life, everyone shut up completely. When he talked about how some of us might feel the same way and know the darkness, the fear and the shame that comes with it, many nodded and I probably was not the only one who was crying. It was a powerful moment of connection that lead into the song, sung and played with so much urgency and passion I felt it resonating in my body and soul. After the concert Ragnar said it was the best version of ‘Necrologue’ on the whole tour.
The spell lasted for a little while longer, right into ‘Fjara’, where it slowly faded as the audience got into the song, some singing along, some moving with the music. Eventually people around me were dancing more wildly. All that pent-up energy needed to go somewhere. It was a metal concert after all. 😉 Next Addi told us we looked a bit tired and we immediately protested. Did we want to hear some more? Hell yes! Someone responded belatedly and he commented “I hope you’re not a drummer Dude!” 😀 Then, as he pointed out they’d play a few more songs, but then leave for good we all replied with “awww” and he joked that there we suddenly a lot of sad puppies. 😀 He already had us in the palm of his hand and we all boooed as he instructed when he said “Thank you, goodnight!”
‘Kukl’ brought more goosebumps, more headbanging, dancing and moments for each member of the band to shine. It was awesome! Addi introduced the band and was in turn introduced by Ragnar. The Iceanders behind us asked something and he agreed that we’d all sing “Happy Birthday” for one of their mates, so we did. He taught us to scream on the count of four and we did not need much practice. They launched into ‘Goddess of the Ages’ with everyone playing their hearts out and Addi shaking many hands. He even leaned down to K. and kissed hers. 😀 There could not be any better song to end the show with and I loved every second of it, enjoyed watching the guys and the ladies. It was so much fun!
Afterwards K. and I hung out for a while. In passing I told Hallgrímur that it was a great show, then chatted with Lotta for a while who had loved it. In talking to her I realized the difference between this concert and the one in Bochum and described it as that one being more emotional and this one being more fun. Can’t say one was better than the other though, both were amazing. A little later I repeated the same to Ragnar, who thought this one had been one of the best gigs on the tour because the band really knew their stuff now and the audience gave them such good energy. They were all happy with the show and rightfully so! I had loved it too. Really happy we said goodbye. Even now, two days later, the evening is still replaying in my head. Thank you, Sólstafir!
Goddess of the Ages