Árstíðir – Fríkirkjan, Reykjavík; December 27th, 2019
So here I was again at Frikirkjan in Reykjavik for Árstíðir’s annual Christmas concert. It has been my personal Christmas tradition since 2013 and no matter how often and for what reasons I thought “this is probably going to be the last one” it never is. Somehow I always get pulled back and each time I walk away richer in one way or another, not in money, but things that really matter: experiences and emotions. This year I walked away really happy – the concert marked the end of a wonderful year with the band that took me back to the beginning and was all about finding balance. Everything goes in circles and being in this fandom is no exceptions. I’ve had some great times with these guys and some not so great ones. In the end it all comes down to for their music, the people they have brought into my life and the places I would have never visited without them. It’s been an amazing ride so far and I am deeply grateful to have been part of it.
In winter I never trust the weather and fear delayed or canceled flights so I arrived a day early. Funnily enough I have only had delays flying to Iceland in summer so far. Anyway, I had a whole day to myself and spent it relaxing, because the weather was shitty. At least swimming works in the rain too. 😉 On concert day I arrived at the venue an hour before the doors opened and walked around until C. arrived. We spent time catching up and didn’t even feel cold until just before they let us in. I got my usual seat at the front, the same one I have sat in at every Christmas concert so far, with C. by my side. Slowly, more people filed in and I saw a few familiar faces. I was ready for the show and after the break I had a good feeling about this one.
They started shortly after 9 pm, standing in the middle of the room, singing ‘Hjá lygnri móðu’, a Christmas song I had never heard them perform before. For the bass voice, they had Pétur, a trained classical singer. He joined them for all the a cappella songs this night and it sounded marvelous. After this one, they moved to the stage, Pétur left and they were joined by Sigrun and Unnur on strings. The sound was perfect, even louder than usual and just seeing them made me smile. This church carries so many memories for me that it feels wrong not to be there somewhere around Christmas to see this band perform. Not all of these memories are happy ones, but right then and there I felt nothing but love as I listened to their music and let it carry me away. I felt all of it and despite the melancholia and drama in some of the songs it made me feel calm.
‘Ljóð í sand’ is a song that has been with me from the beginning, i.e. I have heard it at pretty much every concert I have been to. There were times when I grew tired of it, but currently it somehow feels new again and I really loved it that night. It’s like returning to an old friend you are perfectly comfortable around. Unnur and Sigrun were doing a great job with the songs too and while I am used to Guillaume and Jean-Samuel playing, they sounded just as good. From time to time I looked over at C., who seemed like she was totally lost in the music. I felt it too, letting go of all other thoughts while listening.
‘Passion’ reminded me of the first time I’d heard it. right there at that church, sitting in the same seat. We’ve come a long way since and the song sure doesn’t sound the same any more. Still like it a lot though. ‘Circus’ was brilliant, even better than when I’d last heard it. It’s one of those songs that I’ve always loved, even though I am not entirely sure what it is about. It speaks to me in some way, I’ve just not yet decoded what it is saying. 😉 After that, Pétur was back on stage for ‘Bæn einstæðingsins’ and it was beautiful. I noticed that thy had divided the parts differently, because they now had four voices to chose from. 🙂
The guys talked a little about the first album and the tenth anniversary. Of course they did it in Icelandic of which I only understood bits and pieces because I had a pretty good idea what they were saying. Daníel’s home brewed wine was mentioned for sure. It was time for the band to gather around the central mic for ‘Ages’. It struck a chord with me that night, reminding me of some not so happy times in my youth and making me choke up for a bit. The first album has a special place in my heart so I love this part of the concert very much. I also enjoy how it mostly alternates between the first and the last album with a few other songs thrown in between those two. Remembering a story about playing ‘Kill us’ at their first ever Christmas concert and getting hell for, I wondered for a moment if they’d play it, but of course they did. Of all the incarnations this song has been through and all the versions I have heard, this one might be my favorite.
For ‘Heiðin’ they all returned to their own mics, singing beautifully and then it was time for ‘Síðasta kveðjan’ of course. I had been waiting to hear the song at this church and I was nervous for them, because I knew that Sigrun and Unnur had never performed it. The song was gorgeous – I had to close my eyes, because I could not bear all the emotions it brought up. strangely though, I did not cry, even though I could feel the tears being close. It just made me too happy and I had a smile on my face the entire time. It grew even wider when Gunnar let out a sigh of relief once the song was over. Awww. <3
This time, they did not take a break and of course Corelli’s ‘La Follia’ was not played. They also dropped ‘Oroi’ from the set and continued with ‘Jólin alls staðar’ instead, once again sung by Daníel and Gunnar. Ragnar joined them at the mic for ‘Hin fyrstu jól’, bringing the small keyboard. Now it felt like a Christmas concert, being a good mix of Christmassy songs and other ones. For ‘Heyr himna smiður’ Pétur was back. Having him sing with them was a good decision. I really loved it.
‘Nú gleymist ég’ led the way back to songs from Nivalis and like all the other songs that night it was perfect. they seemed so at ease with the songs and performed them flawlessly. Everything about the concert was breathtaking. After not being so sure I even wanted to come back I was so glad I went. The tour is the tour and it was amazing, especially in the end when they had perfected the performance. Yet reykjavik is their homecoming and it needs to be celebrated. No matter when that Christmas concert happens, it is always something to look forwardto and it remains special. 🙂
I have really fallen in loved with ‘Mute’ onthis tour and loved every moment of it. I also really felt the subwoofer during the song – wow! Strangely I expected ‘While this Way’ next and forgot all about ‘Things you said’ until they started playing it. Somewhere in-between they had talked about the Independent Music Award they won and at on point people laughed a lot, but I can only guess why. It never bothers me though. Somehow not understanding what they say was always part of the deal.
‘While this Way’ then summed up all my emotions right there and for the first time that night I was actually close to tears. So many memories flooded me, all connected through the song all interwoven with these words that feel as if they were written for me. <3 Earlier I had not seen the drums by the side of the stage and was so happy when Daníel got them out for ‘Shades’ – I#d been looking forward to seeing him drum. The song was powerful as ever, they guys being really into it. They left the stage to great cheers and standing ovations.
C. had just said she wondered how long they would make us wait when the band was back on stage already. I had hoped they would keep the encoresa they did, treating us to a wonderful version of ‘And do it goes’. I love that song and especially like what they make of it. Sometimes it makes me really sad, but this night it made me happy, once againm me realize how everything goes in circles and my relationship with this band certainly has. All was well. 😀 in the very end, the guys walked back to the place they had started the show for ‘ Góda veslu göra skal’ – the perfect ending to the night. A few final bows with everyone and the show was over.
Many people filed out, but some stayed to say hello or buy CDs and vinyls. I had a brief chat with each of the guys, told them I’d liked the show and wished them a happy new year. Then it was time to say goodbye. One final hug from Ragnar and thus ended the last concert of the year. Soon, C. said goodbye as well and I walked home, thinking back on a beautiful concert year. It was only the next morning that post tour blurs hit me and I had a good cry. That is the way it is after truly great gigs and that is how it should be. Thank you for everything guys, see you next year! <3
Hjá lygnri móðu
Ljóð í sand
Jólin alls staðar
Hin fyrstu jól
Heyr himna smiður
Nú gleymist ég
Things You Said
While This Way
And so it goes
Góda veslu göra skal