Utopia and Old Skin

Ólafur Arnalds – Elbahallen, Wuppertal (Sommerloch); July 18th, 2014

Back in May, Ólafur Arnalds played in Dortmund, but I could not go, because it was my mom’s birthday. A little while ago I saw his concert at Montreux Jazz festival online. That and a severe case of missing Árstíðir led to checking if there were any concerts nearby and I discovered this one. Not only did the location sound interesting, but also did they sell only 300 tickets. As if that were not enough I knew I’d be seeing Hallgrímur and Karl play. Not a bad plan for a Friday night! 🙂

On concert day all the trains were late and instead of arriving at 5, I got to the venue at 6. It didn’t matter though, because opposed to what the ticket said, the concert was supposed to start at 8, not at 7. Thus all was well in the end and I had some time to check out the venue, but also rest in the shade of the courtyard for a while. The place was a former factory – nice large hall with a partly glass roof and cool graffiti everywhere. 🙂 Ran into Hallgrímur before they finally let us inside. We hugged and chatted briefly, before he had to take care of getting his stuff out of the way.

Eventually we go in to the venue and I got a nice seat at the front, from where everything and everyone would be visible. The support act was Veivecura from Italy. I had expected a band, but for that night it was just one man at the grand piano. He played nicely though, I rather liked his music. It was quite lovely with beautiful melodies and nice singing too. Especially the trilogy ‘Utopia’ was lovely. He got lots of cheers and even had to play an encore. 🙂

Ólafur started with introducing himself and asking everyone to sing one note for him that he could use in the first song. It worked quite nicely too. He called his band on stage and I realized that apart from Hallgrímur and Karl also Victor from Hjaltalín was with him this time. The other violinist and the keybarder / trombone player had been there last year as well.

The music was quieter than I had remembered, really something to listen closely to. Beautiful melodies dripping from the piano, underlined by strings. it’s music to really concentrate on in order to enjoy it and I spent some time with my eyes closed. The concert was quite different from the last one I’d seen, especially since there was a singer with them this time around. Arnór sang only on a few songs, but it added another layer of sounds. Watching Hallgrímur, Karl and the others play once again was great too. No matter which band they play in, I always enjoy seeing them on stage and hearing them.

Ólafur was in a good mood and chatted a lot between songs, telling us how he had stuck pieces of a piano brush the tuner had left between the strings, because he didn’t like the sound of the piano and it got improved by the brush pieces. He also joked about having read on Wikipedia about Wuppertal and using the information in an interview that day, admitting that he didn’t have a clue about the city beforehand. 😀

It’s difficult finding words to adequately describe such a concert, especially for someone who has no clue about classical music. All I can say is that I liked what I was haring and found it calming to listen to. Piano and strings are a great combination for me. Everyone else in the audience loved it as well and they got standing ovations. People cheered so much that Ólafur even came back for en encore. Since his band did not come back with him, he decided to play one song solo on the piano. About halfway through we could hear the cello from the back of the room though. It was lovely. <3

When it was over I hung out to wait for Karl and Hallgrímur. We chatted for a little while and they told me about the next stops on tour. Even Ólafur came out after a while, but I don’t talk to him. After sharing a drink with the guys it was time to say goodbye. A last round of hugs and I left, already looking forward to the next concert.

pictures of this concert

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