Árstíðir – Máls og Menning, Reykjavík – April 23rd, 2022
“And Stefanie is definitely in the house” Gunnar announced just as I had found the perfect spot on the balcony to watch the concert from. Yes, I was, early as usual and therefore got to see the soundcheck too. It was a great start to a great night during which the band found their footing and their voices again after being absent from the stage for too long. It was an amazing show!
When they announced the concert I was so happy to find out it was on a Saturday and immediately booked flights. It was the first show since Nijmegen in August last year and I knew I needed to be there. Arrived late at night on Friday and had a lovely day in Reykjavik before making my way to the venue. It is a former bookstore, turned café and concert venue and I immediately felt at home. Walked upstairs, greeted the guys and watched them play. What I heard made me very happy already. Kyle, from The Anatomy of Frank was guesting and I saw many other familiar faces in the crowd. Many friends said hello, I. came to stay with me on the balcony, where we had a great spot to take pictures from.
Usually the waiting time until show start seems endless, but on this day it went by quickly. Soon the guys were on stage, only the core three at first. Gunnar greeted us all, asked how many did not understand Icelandic and decided to speak English as well. They started with ‘Glitsky’ and it sounded beautiful, their voices harmonizing well. It wasn’t all perfect, but that made it so much better. Gunnar talked about feeling a bit rusty and not remembering how to do this any more. Ragnar commented that they didn’t know if they were rusty, because they had not played in so long and Gunar replied he herad his voice crack so
Ragnar joked that it must have been the rust coming off. 😀 They were in a great mood. ‘Kill us’ followed and my smile grew bigger. I was home!
During the night I got very emotional, even though I never cried. Yet, i felt every word and every sound with my heart and soul. The beautiful music carried me like it always had and I wanted it to go on forever. Getting utterly and completely lost in the music is what I always hope for and Árstíðir immediately worked their magic, holding my attention in the moment so that everything else ceased to exists. Sure, I took pictures, I even exchanged glances and smiles with others, but I was in the zone. <3
For ‘Meanderings’ they called Kyle to the stage ad Ragnar told us how he had walked into their rehearsal space just as they talked about having a banjo, but nobody to play it on the song. As Ragnar put it “Suddenly there is a fine banjo player in the room and leaning on the wall next to him is a banjo”. They roped him in immediately and there he was, playing banjo on stage with them. They started off with a lot of goofing around and then went for the song. Apart from the bango there was even a stomp-box and a little shoe tambourine in use. I was a lovely version.
Next, Unnur and Sigrun were invited to the stage, because strings were needed and the band gave us a perfect version of ‘Ljóð í sand’ – how wonderful to hear the familiar melody again. Everything fit. ‘Someone who cares’ had me sing along and I noticed how attentive the audience was. Usually, at gigs in Reykjavik, there is always someone who jumps up to get another drink mid song, but right there and then everyone remained seated (or standing) and listened. I loved it. Not to mention that the sound was fantastic. <3
For ‘Hvenær kemur sól’ they told us that radio stations wanted to play it because the title suggests it’s a spring song, but it was really written as a metaphor for the pandemic and the hope for things to go back to normal. Gunnar added that the question of when in this regarded could be answered with “basically today”. The band might have been a little rusty at first, but they certainly were warmed up now and everyone sounded so good.
‘While this way’ is always a highlight for me and once again it made me sigh deeply with happiness. <3 I can never get enough of this song and enjoyed singing along, for the first time in a long time without a mask covering half my face. In that moment I felt truly safe and free. ‘Things you said’ closed the first set and was delivered spot-on.
Time for a little break, a toilet run and a bit of chatting. I watched people, soaked in the atmosphere and smiled, knowing how lucky I was to be there. I sent the universe a thank you for the gig happening on a weekend. It was one I would not have wanted to miss.
Set two started with ‘Týndur’ and I felt something was missing, but could not tell what it was. It just seemed more subdued than during soundcheck. They got to the first chorus when Gunnar stopped and noted that something was wrong and he was “missing all the ooompf”. A quick talk with the soundguy, a few buttons pressed and switches moved and they started over. This time it sounded absolutely amazing from the start – wow, what a great live song! 😀
Ragnar did a quick shoutout to Sakaris, their producer and everyone cheered for him.
‘Þar sem enginn fer’ followed, beautiful as always. I just adore this song. The biggest surprise of the setlist was them announcing a song from the yet unreleased album ‘Blik’, ‘Bringing back the Feel’. I had been lucky enough to visit them at the studio and hear a mix of the song. We had talked about how it felt like the right song to be played in an old style cafe or a jazz club. Daníel had very specific ideas about the strings then and now I could hear how they were turned into music. It was mind-blowing, an amazing performance, with killer strings, sounding so happy that I snapped my fingers all the way through and could not help but dance. Just wow!
Because they are who they are, a band generally known for more melancholic music, they said they would now bring us back down and gave us ‘Endatafl’. What can I say? The song is gorgeous! In the end I sang along to “ooohoooo and aaaahaaa” part. “Just so there is no mistakes, this was a song about death. And now we’re gonna do a song about life and death,” Ragnar quipped and caused some laughter. “Life after death,” Daníel added. It was ‘Lífsins Pendúll’ and as they announced it I loudly exclaimed “YES!”. It is my favorite on the new album and it was just as wonderful as I had hoped it would be. <3
Ragnar mused about liking the venue and asked us how we liked it. We did and then cheered for the soundguy too. ‘Lover’, another favorite of mine, took us back to Nivalis. It was great! Then Gunnar thanked us all for coming and explained that coming back after so much time was not as easy as it might seem and that we helped. <3 Of course they ended the set with “the song that has ended each one of our shows for the past seven years” ‘Shades’. Once more they gave us their all, ending on a high note and we thanked them with great cheers. Eventually we got them back to the stage for an encore. It was ‘Heiðin’. They joked about how this was supposed to be a song of hope or what these three serious young men thought qualified for that. It felt like the perfect show closer. What a night!
Excited chatter ensued afterwards, I went downstairs, planning to get a drink and got caught up in hugs and catching up with people I had not seen in a while. Thanked everyone for the great show, told them what I had loved most, hung out, finally got a drink too and sat down first with L. and later with Marta, I. and Ragnar for more chats. We stayed until they kicked us out and finally, around 2 am, I was back at my hotel, happily smiling in my sleep. It was the perfect tour kick-off. Thank you and see you soon!
Ljóð í sand
Someone who cares
Hvenær kemur sól
While this Way
Things you said
Þar sem enginn fer
Bringing back the Feel