Great acoustic, cold venue and too perfect first act.

Árstíðir / Latvian Voices – St. Jürgen Kirche, Flensburg; April 29th, 2016

The Árstíðir concert in Flensburg was the halfway mark for me on this tour and the first one I saw without Kyle. It happened as part of the Folk Baltica festival and the audience was older than at the other concerts I had seen so far.  The venue was a church and they shared the bill with Latvian Voices a female vocal band. It was a nice concert if a bit shorter than the usual ones.

It was a long trip from Dortmund and I thought I was not going to make it on time, but I got there before the doors opened. They even let us in early and we picked our places at the front.  I’m very tempted to say the audience was the one typical for any folk event, the same sort people, whom I remember from my first concerts in Germany when the average age was somewhere around 50 and people were very serious about listening to the music. Or at least it seemed that way. 😉 Also most people had not seen them before or at least not on the previous day in Kappeln.

Latvian Voices were first and I did like their singing, some of it even reminded me of Marga Muzica. However, they only did a cappella pieces with very little instrumentation and around the fifth song I got bored. It’s not like all of the songs sounded the same, but they were all a bit too polished for my liking. It became very noticeable when they sang ’Danny Boy’ and I really wished for the guys to sing it instead. I. even suggested they should join in and take over from there. The killer though, in a bad sense was ‘Hallelujah’ – I love that song, but for me it does not work in a polished version sung by very beautiful female voices that have no edge to them whatsoever. It totally destroyed the song for me. Luckily it was over soon after that.

Since the festival was a German/Danish cooperation, Árstíðir were announced by a German woman and a Danish man. Much to our amusement he pronounced their bandname flawlessly every time while she struggled and never managed. 😀 Finally the guys walked on stage and the room grew quiet. They started with Himinhvel and sounded amazing. Churches usually do the trick there. From that first moment I loved the concert and soon forgot all about y surroundings. They made me forget that I had not enjoyed Latvian Voices and they made me not notice that the audience was a bit too quiet at times. I know some think this music needs reverence and silence, but really, the guys get so much better when they receive feedback. Either way, they did well and I’m sure the good sound made them enjoy singing there.

They played a lot of a cappella songs that evening, making good use of the venue’s acoustics. First though they started with ‘Himinhvel’, making me want to close my eyes and let the music flow through me. The song, especially the intro, is so powerful it can take my mind away from all worries and open my heart to the music. It does not always happen, but here it did and made me feel at home for the first time since I had arrived. ‘Things you said’ followed, with people listening quietly and only clapping after it was over. In case there  was anyone still in doubt about how good this band is, the beautiful ‘Þér ég unni’ showed them. It warmed up the rather cold room. I can’t say enough how happy I am about this song being back on the setlist. It is my favorite a cappella piece and I had missed it for some time.

‘Someone who cares’ is always the song that draws me into the concert if ‘Himinhvel’ has not done the job. The song has not lost any of its appeal since I first heard it in Wołomin in 2013 – there is something about Gunnar’s and Daniel’s harmony singing that gets me every time. I loved all the songs that night though. After hearing lots of stories about the brilliant (and longest ever) the previous day that I could not attend, I was just happy to be back and see the guys again. 😀

The main set ended with ‘Shades’, which elicited the biggest audience response apart from the a cappella songs. Everyone wanted the band to come back and of course they gave us an encore. For the final one they even walked out into the aisle and sung there. It was lovely. I just wish they had played a little bit longer. I could have used an extra long concert that night. 🙂

It was over though and we walked to the front of the church where Masha had been waiting in the cold ante-room by the merchandise table. Quite a few people bought CDs, but most left soon after so we got to chat with the guys for a while. I. had brought beer which they much appreciated. We chatted and joked until they packed up and left. Then we went out for a final drink. It was a good night.

Setlist:

Himinhvel
Things you said
Þér ég unni
Someone who cares
Vid dagsins hnig
Á meðan jörðin sjefur
Land minns fjödur
Shine
You just have to know of me
Heyr, himna smiður
You again
Shades

And so it goes
Góda veslu göra skal

pictures of this concert

Árstíðir spring tour: 10 concerts down, 10 to go, next stop: Malmö

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