We all have been waiting too long…

Árstíðir – Konzerthaus Dortmund; September 23rd, 2022

Ever since seeing Árstíðir for the first time in 2012, I was hoping they’d play in Dortmund one day. Finally, 10 years, 210 concerts and over 300 000 kilometers later it happened and was everything I could have hoped for. Their show at Konzerthaus Dortmund was among the best I have seen and left me truly happy. I knew it was going to be a special show, but did not expect it to be this special.

It had been a long time coming with this concert. It was originally planned for May 2020 and after being moved to the fall of the same year, it eventually got cancelled due to Covid. I was really happy when they put it back on this year, but also cursed my fate, because I already had tickets for two (!!) concerts on that same date. It was still an easy decision, there was no way for me not to be there.

Having gotten home at 3 am and getting merely 6 hours of sleep before the show wasn’t ideal, but as soon as my friends P. and I. arrived I forgot all about that. We had dinner and a nice chat before we left and it felt utterly weird to go to a concert so late, but with assigned seats it was easy. The concert hall had always seemed more like an auditorium to me, but this evening it had a red backdrop and nice lights so it looked much better than I remembered. At was nicely filled too. 🙂

After walking on stage and taking their spots, Ragnar introduced them and told us what to expect: Mostly Icelandic songs from all their albums, some stories and a few traditional songs. He also expressed how long they had been waiting for this show to happen. They started with ‘Himnhvel’ and it already proved just how good the sound was. The song is always gorgeous, but this performance was flawless. What a great start! 😀

‘Hvenær kemur sól’ was next and from then on I knew everything was going to be perfect that night. I was already loving it. Daníel talked about waiting for the sun to come out in many ways in March 2020. Gunnar added that staying inside a lot during the pandemic they had time to write songs for two albums.

‘Silfurskin’ was a pleasant surprise for me and brought tears to my eyes. It’s just so beautiful. <3 When Ragnar asked how many people speak Icelandic only Gunnar raised his hand. Daníel then asked who owned an Icelandic horse and apparently one hand went up so Ragnar joked that in Oldenburg two days ago everyone had Icelandic horses. 😉

Of course they had to play their just released single ‘Later on’, another song that really gets to me. I cannot explain why, but it touches me in many ways, musically even more than lyrically. They got up and gathered around the stereo mic. Ragnar asked who had seen them before and as far as I could tell there were more people in the room who had not. He explained about their beginnings on Daníel’s couch and they sang ‘Glitsky’ for us. I had already noticed in Oldenburg that they have given up on asking if we wanted to hear the Icelandic or English version. 😉

Gunnar told us how they had listened to Crosby, Stills & Nash and Simon & Garfunkel a lot and made an Icelandic version of ‘Helplessly Hoping’. We learned that ‘Með hallandi höfði’ means “with a leaning head” and that the song was never released on an album, but the demo was played on Icelandic radio and became really popular. Small wonder, it is beautiful and so was the performance.

Ragnar taught us Icelandic and we did really well on saying ‘Skál’. 😀 Gunnar talked about the next song, being based on a melody Ragnar wrote and how he found the words to it when he was traveling in Japan and literally had none, because he does not speak Japanese and was in the company of someone, who was fluent, so he only spoke to said person for two weeks and felt ‘Mute’. It has got to be strange. I’ve been to many countries, where I don’t speak the language, but there was always someone who spoke English so I can’t really relate.

We heard about driving along the Westfjords in zig-zag, which inspired Daníel to write ‘Þar sem enginn fer’. Ragnar said anyone who’s driven there should understand it is a good time for contemplating life. I really love that song and it puts a big smile on my face every time I hear it, especially because the music is so dramatic. Great strings too.

We heard about Icelandic songs being melancholic in general and how a love poem becomes more dramatic, when it is written into black sand. It was the introduction to ‘Ljoð í sand’, which was lovely. ‘Týndur’ followed, one of my favorites on ‘Pendúll’. <3 As an introduction they spoke about time becoming relative during the pandemic years and how that became an inspiration for the songs. Then they played ‘Endatafl’ too. <3 Ragnar explained that it refers to the final game of chess and this song is about a man and the chess game is his life with te time running out on the clock.  Wow. Not for the first time that night I sighed happily.

At one point, I. even asked me “You are quite satisfied, aren’t you?” Hell yes. This was everything I had hoped for any more. What a wonderful, magical show. I know I say that a lot and it must seem like an exaggeration at times. Yet it isn’t. They really are just that good. These are the concerts I live for, the ones that pick me up and carry me on a wave of joy. These are the ones that make me come back.

‘Nú gleymist ég’ was next and again I waited for Gunnar to drop his voice down to a whisper and then belting out the next line. He never fails me and it is still as wonderfully dramatic as it was the very first time he did it. I love every second of the song, but this is absolutely my favorite part. <3 Gunnar thanked Guillaume and Jean-Samuel especially and they got extra cheers before getting a little break. Ragnar talked about the inspiration for ‘Nú gleymist #eg’ being an avalanche and how many themes in music are about death, even the nursery rhymes.

Gunnar continued with the story of Gísli á Uppsölm, who lived alone for decades, before a famous TV personality, Ómar Ragnarsson interviewed him. After Gisli died, that he found poems in his house and wrote music for it, which is how ‘Bæn einstæðingsins’ came about and they sang it for us, all three gathered around the double microphones. I got goose bumps. 🙂 Then Gunnar told us the story about singing a song at a train station that changed their lives and Guillaume joined them for ‘Heyr, hymna smiður’, which was just as amazing.

Jean-Samuel was back on stage too for a trip back to the first album and more stories about Daníel’s infamous home-brewed wine. Daníel spoke about the labels and everything and the wine racks he had bought and then only making one batch of wine because it was just too bad. Cool name though, “El Daníelo” 😀 ‘you just have to know of me’ may be old, but it is still great. I especially like the intro of strings and piano.

We got ‘Næturylur’ afterwards and I could not remember when I had last heard it. Maybe at the anniversary gig for the first album? I really loved having it in the set. Daníel told us that it used to be called ‘Struggle’ and with english lyrics, but they felt it sounded better in Icelandic. They also told us about writing songs in two languages and how it’s a different feeling and energy in each language.

With ‘Heiðin’ they spoke about the bank crash in Iceland and the contests for songs about hope which they did not win with this entry. Surprise. 😀 Still a great song! After all the melancholia they changed the tune with ‘Bringing back the Feel’. Gunnar pointed out that the pandemic had taught them not to take themselves so seriously and write happy songs if they felt like it, so they did. It was great fun as always. 😀

‘While this Way’ came as a surprise this time, because I had thought they might drop it for another Icelandic song. All the better they did not. <3 The last song before the encores was of course ‘Shades’. Before it, Ragnar instructed us to say “awww” when he announced the last song and the audience’ response was next to perfect. The song was performed brilliantly and they got standing ovations. 😀

We cheered and clapped until they came back. They thanked everyone for making the show happen and how they enjoyed it. The concert ended with ‘Things you said’ and finally ‘Góða veislu gjöra skal’ – let’s party like it’s 1599as they put it. When it was over, I realized they had played for almost 2 hours. Wow, longest show I have seen I think and as good as it gets.

Afterwards we went and had a brief chat with them. I was just going to ask about ‘Siðasta Kveðjan’, which I was sure I had heard them rehearse in Oldenburg, when Ragnar told me they tried, but were not feeling it. The show was still absolutely brilliant and the guys were exhausted but happy. I hugged everyone who wanted to be hugged, thanked them and said goodbye until the next time.

Once back at my place, P., I. and I had our own little after party and talked well into the night.

Setlist

Himinhvel
Hvenær kemur sól
Silfurskin
Later on
Glitsky
Með hallandi höfði
Mute
Þar sem enginn fer
Ljoð í sand
Týndur
Endatafl
Nú ggleymist ég
Bæn einstæðingsins
Heyr, hymna smiður
You just have to know of me
Næturylur
Heiðin
Bringing back the feel
While this way
Shades

Things you said
Góða veislu gjöra skal

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