Árstíðir – Kulturkirche, Cologne; November 15th, 2023
I had really been looking forwards to Árstíðirs return to Kulturkirche in Cologne and I was not disappointed. The sound was brilliants and they played an amazing show. I enjoyed it tremendously and felt so much lighter than I had the previous day. They did a church show, i.e. played two a cappella songs, making it a nice long show.
The day had started too early for me, as I had to get up at 4 am to leave Dudelange on the first possible train. It still took ages to get to Dortmund and by the timeI had finally made it home I had al of 45 minutes to finish packing and leave towards Cologne. I made it there somewhat delayed and headed straight to my hostel. Once there, all worries fell off of me, because I had a plan now and knew I was going to make it to Hamburg the next day. as an added bonus I had a 4 person dorm all to myself. Yay!
Got to relax a little and grabbed a drink from reception before I left. The subway was faster than expected and I arrived at Kulturkirche much earlier than planned. It was nice though, because I got to hear the soundcheck, which sounded beautiful. About 40 minutes later G. joined me and a few more people came, so I had company to chat with. The let s in a little late and it felt good to finally be where it was warm. Got a nice seat at the front, took a deep breath and waited for the show to start.
The first thing I notice when the show started where the somewhat strange lights. it Was ambitious lighting with lots of different lamps and colors, but it didn’t necessarily work, as it left the band members in the dark a lot of the time. Much more important than the light was the sound and that was pretty much perfect. ‘Himinhvel’ sounded amazing already and it stayed like this through the entire first set. I felt so different from the night before, really relaxed and open to the music, fully into it from the start. 🙂
The audience was great too, cheering loudly from the start and even before ‘Ljóð í sand’ it was already a wonderful show. That song is usually the one that draws people in, but this audience was there from the start. 🙂 Ragnar greeted us i German, saying how good it was to be back. Everyone agreed that a mix of new songs and old sounded like a good idea. ‘Bringing back the Fell’ put a big smile on my face and ‘Later on’ made it even bigger. These two songs work so well in combination, from happy to frustrated in a heartbeat – I really dig all the emotions Árstíðir’s music evokes.
For ‘Santity’ Ragnar made the joke about the missing pre-fix again, but it somehow hadn’t worked since Amsterdam. The song was amazing though. I love how he gets into it with his whole body and it sounded so good. After the grand rock voice of ‘Sanity’, ‘Figure’ is such a nice contrast with all its disco vibes. Who would have thought I#d ever enjoy that type of music so much? It’s really fun!
Next, Gunnar invited us to go back in time to the second album for ‘Nú gleymist ég’. It’s always amazing and a real good test for the sound person because it is so dynamic. I absolutely loved it. To my surprise they played ‘Þar sem enginn fer’ right after. Again, I enjoyed watching Daníel’s picking. I’ve never payed as much attention to it as I do now that he’s at the center. I like it.
They played ‘Lover’ next and then closed the first set with ‘Friðþægingin’. Since they took that from he second set, I wondered what surprised they might have in store for us. If nothing else, it made the set lengths more even. Gunni introduced the song by saying it was the second most difficult word in Icelandic after “umferðaröngþveiti” – it really made me laugh that they got back to the word they’d been trying to teach us on the Verloren Verleden tour. 😀 It was a great set closer.
Before we knew it, the break was over and Raggi spoke about both albums, Pendúll and Blik and how they had played with concepts of time for both of them. ‘Glitsky’ and ‘Hvenar kemur sól’ were both beautiful. I really like how they tried to mix in some Icelandic songs with Blik being only in English. Pendúll is such an amazing album as well, it surely deserves some room in the setlist. In fact I would not mind a show where they played both albums in full. 😉
After ‘While this Way’ and ‘Mute’ they got out the double mics for some a cappella songs, singing ‘Bæn einstæðingsins’ as a trio and then ‘Ísland farsældafrón’ with Guillaume and Jean-Samuel. Both sounded amazing. Sadly, the lighting was terrible. They were lit only from the back and it was way too bright to see anything. I almost had to close my eyes not to be blinded. It was still a real treat. I like how they do this only on special occasions now. 🙂
Gunnar mentioned that ‘Ísland farsældafrón’ was about Iceland and we might have heard that it wasn’t a happy song, telling us that it’s how Icelanders like to do it, in minor and maybe they were just being dramatic. Ragnar added that the entire Blik album is n minor as well, even though it is their happiest album. ‘Home’, ‘Kirin’ and ‘A new Tomorrow’ were all great. I love the melancholia of ‘Home’, the subtle anger of ‘Kirin’ and the way ‘A new Tomorrow’ is so very catchy. In between they spoke about he baritone guitar and we learned that these are no longer made and would be the result “if a guitar and a bass had a baby”. 😀
When Daníel said that all good things come to an end we awwwd and he mused that it was such a universal word, then told us how they loved ending with ‘Shades’ – it was perfect. The lighting was mostly from the back again, keeping he band in the shadow, but for this song it actually fit. They got standing ovations after and soon came back for two more songs, once more taking us back to the ld days with ‘Kill us’. Raggi threatened to stage dive, but did not. He also spoke about Daníel’s couch and the terrible wine and asked him if he still had the recipe. He doesn’t, but told us he brewed good moonshine. Interesting. 😀 Sadly there was some strong feedback during the song, but luckily that was cured for the grand finale with ‘Things you said’ – what a great show that was!
Afterwards I talked to G. and some others about how strange the lights had been, but how we’d loved the sound. Said hello to the guys, shared some hugs and could give Gunni the good news that there was feedback only during one song. I asked Daníel about ‘Þar sem enginn fer’ and he said he always picks it the same, but did something slightly different with the effects. So maybe that was what I heard, or maybe I was just focussing more on the picking that night. Eventually I said goodbye to everyone and went back to my hostel for some sleep before the next adventure.
Ljóð í sand
Bringing back the Feel
Nú gleymist ég
Þar sem enginn fer
Hvenar kemur sól
While this Way
A new Tomorrow
Things you said