Voice lost, songs found much laughter

Árstiðir – Imperial Theater, Hamburg; May 2nd, 2022

It was one special night, when Árstíðir returned to Hamburg’s Imperial Theater. When they stepped out on stage, to stand on the stairs in the back, I did not yet know how special, but that was soon to be revealed. Unusual circumstances required unusual solutions and they turned it into something amazing.

It was an easy trip to Hamburg, only one train. I just had to get to the station first. There was a bus stop right at the hotel, but all the busses seemed to go in the wrong direction. In search of the opposite stop, I asked at a car dealership where it might be, but they didn’t know either. However, One of the salespeople offered to drive me to he closest tram station. Win! Everything went smoothly and I even had a little time to rest before heading to the venue. Met I. and H. when I arrived and we were joined by J. soon after. G. arrived a little later and we were all ready for a good show.

Platon Karatev played a solid set. I thought the sound was a bit muddy at the front, but that wasn’t their fault. It was great fun either way and I had the feeling they had changed their setlist a little, but don’t know their songs well enough yet. I surely enjoyed it.

The break was spent chatting and sooner than expected Árstíðir stepped on stage, making full use of the theater setting and standing on the stairs in the back for the first song, ‘Ísland farsældafrón’. It sounded great and even the Frenchmen sang with them. Gunnar explained that this is what a concert in Iceland might have sounded like 100 years ago and how they like singing it. Then the guys told us it was going to be a special show because Daníel had lost his voice the previous day. Jokes ensued about what type of songs he might be able to sing, causing a lot of laughter.

‘While this way’ kicked it all off with Daníel being reduced to playing guitar. It was all good though. As opposed to all the other gigs so far, the show continued with ‘Ljóð i sand’. The songs sounded ever so slightly different with one harmony vocal missing, but still wonderful. Then Gunnar sang ‘Hvenær kemur sól’ and they were already halfway into the song, before my brain was like “He usually doe snot sing this one”. He did such a great job, it didn’t even feel strange that it was sung with a different voice. Ragnar talked about how during Covid and the band was their bubble they stayed in and explained how writing songs was their way to deal with their worries, “And we had so many worries that we wrote 30 songs” *laughter*

‘Týndur’ was beautiful as always, this time played without any talk about its meaning. I especially love the strings, but the whole song is such a gem. <3 Straight on to ‘Endatafl’, such a dramatic change of tone. The combination of these two songs works well and it was a great rendition. This might have been the point of the night where I missed Daníel’s harmonies most during the “oooohhhh – aaaaaaahhhh” part in the end. Good thing they have three lead vocals. 😀

It was time for the doubly microphone and the acoustic set. Ragnar told us they would take us back to their beginnings on Daníel’s couch. As every night the audience voted to hear ‘Glitsky’ rather than ‘All is well’. It was perfect!. <3 Before ‘Kill us’ Ragnar told us they had thought three guitars might be too much so he bought the baritone and got stuck with it and didn’t truly find his home until he switched to the piano, but likes to come back to the baritone once in a while. They played a great version on the song too.

Gunnar and Ragnar joked about Daníel’s wine brewing skills back in the day and mused they might have not played so much guitar if the wine had been better. Daníel added how everything but the taste of the wine was great and he even had a specially designed label. 😀 ‘Ages’ was next, the first song they recorded and notably 14 years old. Ages ago indeed. It had been a while since I’d heard that one. It fit in well.

‘Mute’ followed. I had not expected that song to make a comeback. Brilliant! Afterwards, Gunnar told us how he had written it in Japan and what it feels like if you cannot really communicate or interact with people due to language barriers. They also chatted a little about how a song becomes an Árstíðir song as soon as one of them has an idea for something someone else brought in and this song was based on something Ragnar had brought in earlier.

Gunnar sang an amazing version of ‘Þar sem enginn fer’- I had for sure thought they’d replace that song, but he just made it his own. <3 Of course they had to gave us a taste of ‘Blik’ with ‘Bringing back the Feel’, which Gunnar declared as their plan for 2022 – getting back to touring life and bringing back that feel. I love the song more every night. The strings sure make me feel like being in an old style coffee house. It grooved just like it should with Gunnar on vocals. We also got some laughs when he forgot the lyrics at some point and just ad libbed it. Fun!

Ragnar pointed out they were trying to be Shamans of sorts, trying to tell the universe that everything was going to be well, casing a spell for the sun to come back and lastly bringing back the feel. ‘Lover’ was back in the set and I loved having it there. <3 Afterwards, Gunnar told us how happy they were to be back on the road and how weird it was to pretend that nothing had ever happened, thanking us for our support. They ended with ‘Shades’ of course, great as always.

We cheered and clapped for them to come back and they joked about having forgotten what it means. Once again they stood on the stairs, with Ragnar explaining how the torture instruments that made up the stage setting where a nice contrast to the party song ‘Góða veislu gjöra skal’. 😀 One more time they stepped down to the stage and played ‘Heiðin’ for us. It was a beautiful ending to a beautiful show. <3 We cheeered them back for one more bow and that was it. More tomorrow.

I hung out for a while, talking to everyone, telling Daníel to get well and praising Gunnar for his excellent work on the unfamiliar songs. He said the hardest part was suddenly having to play and sing some of the parts and that was why he goofed up – he was so concentrated on playing. Isa was there too and we reminisced about Ragnar’s solo tour with her in Germany. Fun times. Eventually I said goodbye to everyone and went back to my hotel, still smiling.

Setlist

Ísland farsældafrón
While this way
Ljóð i sand
Hvenær kemur sól
Týndur
Endatafl
Glitsky
Kill us
Ages
Mute
Þar sem enginn fer
Bringing back the Feel
Lover
Shades

Góða veislu gjöra skal
Heiðin

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