Legendary venue, dangerous candles and an extra encore

Árstíðir – Cafe Mokka, Thun; December 13th, 2022

It took me many years before I finally managed to see Árstíðir at the legendary Café Mokka in Thun, but it was definitely worth the wait. What a wonderfully- weird venue and what a great show. I had so much fun and the guys looked really happy as well.

The trip from Tübingen was exhausting, because none of the trains went as planned. I had to leave an hours earlier than I had intended, change trains several times and was always scared I would not make the next one. Only when I finally sat on a train towards Zurich I could relax. Got to Thun around 2, checked in and choose to take a nap first. It was badly needed. It looked like a lovely city, but I was just too tired to explore and stayed at the hotel until it was time to go to the venue.

Arrived before they opened the doors and spent some time checking out all the odd things in the garden from guitar playing gnomes to a Swan chair to a T-Rex on the roof. Inside it was just the same: weird stuff everywhere. Every corner, nook and cranny was taken. I saw ET, Yoda, Bart Simpson and many more. To my surprise, there were quite a lot of real candles as well. Considering the venue is rather small, that seemed like a fire hazard, but nobody cared.

When it was time for the show to start, the band had to walk through the crowd to reach the stage and they barely seemed to fit on it, but somehow it worked and seeing them surrounded by so much stuff made me smile. Before they even started playing, Ragnar told us this was their favorite venue and how good it was to be back. That made me even happier to have made it there.

From the start it felt like they put all they had into the songs so everything sounded great. The audience responded in kind and were cheering loudly already after ‘Ljóð í sand’. We learned about how long they have been making music together and are like brothers so it was only natural they stuck together like family during the pandemic. We got ‘Hvenær kemur sól’ directly followed by ‘Endatafl’ and both were amazing. <3 I always feel the urge to sing along to the “oooohhh” part in the end and I always give in. It makes me feel like I’m part of a choir where the sum of the sound is bigger than its parts.

While Gunnar talked about the upcoming album ‘Blik’, Ragnar softly played a piano melody that turned into the beginning of ‘Later On’ – I really felt it that night, the urgency and the pain hidden in those words, the feeling of slowly going crazy. No wonder this song made my cry the first time I heard it. I could not explain why then, but I felt it.

Introducing ‘Passion’ Daníel mentioned how they were “out of ex-girlfriends to write about” and thus had to write this one for themselves. The joke always makes people laugh. Knowing they wrote it to themselves put the song in a different light and makes it even better. Afterwards Ragnar added that every song has a story and for all the joys and tragedies in life there is a song that channels them. He hinted that ‘Shine’ was written about a tragedy and that he found the trip to Mars as a good metaphor. It is a one way trip and there are many reasons to stay on earth, so regrets might come halfway there. It was a great version of the song, emphasizing the sadness and sending shivers down my spine.

Next, Daníel asked us to imagine riding in a car through Iceland’s Westfjords and even though I don’t understand the words of ‘Þar sem enginn fer’ and can’t even drive I can feel and imagine everything. I especially love the dramatic strings in the end.

Straight away the guys continued with ‘While this way’ and no matter how many times I hear it I can’t help but notice how perfect the song is. The grand finale, ‘Shades’ was awesome too.

When he and Guillaume returned to the stage, Jean-Samuel was rather talkative and did not only let us know that the others were still backstage enjoying Glühwein, but also that they were going to play an old Icelandic song for us. 🙂 Making and introduction definitely works. During the first few sows, people sometime didn’t realize that show was continued until they started playing ‘Heyr, hymna smiður’.

Ragnar told us that they wanted to offer different Christmas songs and thus brought his favorite Swedish one, ‘Gläns över sjö och strand’. ‘Jólin alls staðar’ and brought us to the more traditional Icelandic songs. Gunnar told us his favorite theory about getting instruments much later in Iceland than in other countries is that they did not have any trees to build them. 😀 As they stood around the mic, I noticed that Daníel was really to the candles in the back and worried about his hair. Guillaume saw it too and told him to move forward. Well done!

As always it was lovely to hear them sing in harmony and without instruments. Not to mention that ‘Hátið fer að höndum ein’ is a beautiful song. The guys especially had fun with demonstrating the parallel fifth, after which Ragnar mentioned that Bach was turning in his grave now. Despite having learned about music theory, Icelandic composers still play with the “Icelandic sound” and they showed us with ‘Ísland farsældafrón’, explaining that the music may sound harsh, but the words are romantic. OK then.

‘Góða veislu gjöra skal’ was another fun one where they stamped their feet and sang to each other. Afterwards we learned that the final line means “god will decide where we dance next Christmas” and that you can determine the age of a Christmas song by the gods they are about, either heathen or Christian. Their own Christmas song, however contains neither. I could claim that’s the reason I like ‘Allt er hljótt’ so much, but honestly, it just sounds nice.

With ‘Ró’ Guillaume once again showed us that he can play piano too. Having it in the set has been really enjoyable. Everyone agreed and cheered loudly. We learned it was their first song without vocals. ‘Things you said’ took us to the last song of the set and for ‘Heims um ból’ we once again got a German sing-along. 😀

We clapped and cheered them back to the stage right away and when Gunnar asked if we wanted a “Zugabe” we cheered even more. He told us it was their favorite word and how magical this venue is. They had fun with ‘Bringing back the feel’, soap bubbles included. I always enjoy watching them play this one – it instantly brightens my mood. We learned that even their happy songs, like this one, are written in minor keys.

The band thanked us for coming and told us that ‘And so it goes’ may not be a Christmas song, but feels christmassy to them. It was gorgeous. Afterwards something so far unseen happened: the audience did not stop cheering and they decided to play one more song. <3 It was ‘Heiðin’ and Daníel told us that it refers to the highlands and is a metaphor for something difficult you have to get over. Everything about it was perfect. 😀

They sold and signed a bunch of CDs and vinyls, I told everyone how much I had loved the show, learned that with all the stuff everywhere it was difficult to find an electrical outlet to charge one’s phone. I sat with Jean-Samuel, Ragnar and a few fans, chatting and drinking for a while. Sadly, the afterparty continued outside the city, so I decided to go back to my hotel instead. It had been a lovely evening either way and I got a good night’s sleep to boot. 😀

pictures of this concert


Ljóð í sand
Hvenær kemur sól
Later On
Þar sem enginn fer
While this way

Heyr, hymna smiður – strings only
Gläns över sjö och strand
Jólin alls staðar
Hátið fer að höndum ein
Ísland farsældafrón
Góða veislu gjöra skal
Allt er hljótt

Things you said
Heims um ból

Bringing back the feel
And so it goes

Vetrarsól tour 2022 – eight gigs down, one to go. Next stop: Aarau

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