Love songs, duets and stories about life and death

Svavar Knútur & Kyle Woolard – Heilig Geist Kirche, Uniklinikum,Freiburg; September 17th, 2016

When my alarm clock kicked me out of bed at 5:30 this morning I seriously considered just staying home. After all, I had only arrived there 3.5 hours previously. Of course when I had booked that early bus to Freiburg, the concert in Münster had not even been announced yet so I could not have known it would be such a late Friday night. Either way, I was prepared with a food supply I only needed to pack, got ready and dragged my only semi-conscious body to the bus station. The bus was late, but I was pretty much back to sleep before we had left Dortmund. Woke up three hours later and still had five more to go. Eventually I made it to Freiburg and after killing time for the rest of the afternoon, I was in for a special treat of a concert. Not only did I get a request played (thank you Kyle!), but heard beautiful duets and songs I had not yet heard live in a church with great acoustics. Stranded and waiting for my bus right now I am still smiling because I would really have missed something if I hadn’t been here. It was beautiful! 🙂

Finding the church was a little bit complicated since it is part of Freiburg’s University hospital, but there are no signs anywhere. I walked by what I remembered seeing on a map and ended up taking the long way around. It looked really beautiful though and the soundcheck already sounded amazing. Slowly people arrived and found myself a spot in front row. On the right this time, instead of my usual left.

Soon, Kyle walked out and started playing at the top of the stairs where the altar would usually be, slowly walking down. I wanted to sing along, but everyone was so quiet that I merely mouthed the words. After the first song I wasn’t sure what people thought, but they slowly warmed up to it, clapping louder with each song. 🙂 Hearing ‘Diagonal North America’ made me happy and as the pervious night I was hoping for ‘Minnesota Part 2’ – Kyle had promised so I was pretty sure he’d play it at some point. 🙂

‘Minnesota Part 1’ was first though, followed by ‘Patagonia’. Na issues here, I love both. 🙂 He talked about traveling and how he was lucky enough to have parents who took him places when he was young, but didn’t get the travel bug until he was 19 or 20. For him then, making music and touring became the perfect way to satisfy the Wanderlust. We got the same magic trick as in Cologne and this time I was watching closely. Now I know how he did it. 😉 Kyle announced he was gonna play the next song for a “dedicated and fine fan” (awww <3) and that it was a love song. It sure is and it came across great. He also played ‘La Llorona’, joking that people who tell their kids scary stories really don’t know how kids work and what was up with Struwwelpeter anyway? The sing along worked OK, even though people held back a little, especially on my side. To my surprise, he ended with ‘Fools rush in’.

People clapped loudly and yelled for more. Kyle happily came out again and played ‘Vancouver’ too. Perfect ending to my last show. I would have missed that song if he had not played it.


Minnesota Part i
MInnesota Part ii
La Llorona
Fools Rush in


After a short break, Svavar was up. Since there were kids in the house and it was a church he held back a bit, talking less than he had at the other two concerts. It was still really funny though and still too much for some people. I heard a lady behind me say “Oh please, stop talking and just play songs!” – she can’t have seen him play before. 😀 Sure, Svavar is not for everyone, but for me its the mixture between funny stories and sad songs that make sit perfect. Without the stories he would just be some boring emo songwriter.

Of course he started with ‘Vetrarsól ‘, giving us a taste of what a happy singer songwriter would sound like, making up songs on the spot about his perfect happy life and the perfect car he owned. 🙂 Before ‘Undir Birktré’ he told us that you really could not get much Waldeinsamkeit in Iceland and Buscheinsamkeit was nowhere near as cool. After two Icelandic songs he wanted to do something in German and sang a Brahms song. Pretty impressive

Then, for ‘Wanderlust’ he asked his friend Helena and Kyle tos hare the stage with him and all three sang beautifully. Before they did though he told us something about different national anthems and what they sound like, covering the US (“We inviade countries and steal their resources”, France (“Let’s kill our enemies”), Germany (“Sorry, is all that we can say”) and Austria (“We didn’t do anything, what Nazis?”) before finally getting to Iceland and swearing that it really is that sad. Helena nearly died laughing next to him. 😀 Kyle left the stage after, but Helena stayed for ‘Emotional Anorexic’  – it was amazing too.

Something positive needed to be next: ‘Tiger and Bear’. Such a lovely song Svavar made out of Janosh’s ‘Oh wie schön ist Panama’. His favorite children’s book as he said. It got dramatic again for ‘Brot’ and this time he didn’t only tell us that it is about a fisherman who gets caught in a storm, but mentioned that it is actually a story that happened to him and that he had to swim, drowned even and was saved by his father. The song speaks to me anyway, but this night it was especially powerful. Another song about his father brought Helena back to the stage. He said he hardly ever played it and that it translates to ‘Love Song from a Mountain’ (Ástarsaga úr fjöllunum). Beautifully sad. Unfortunately a helicopter flew right above the church during the song which made it a bit more difficult.

He noted that most songs had been Icelandic so far and how he only does that when he really trusts and audience. The helicopter was back for ‘Yfir hóla og yfir hæðir’, but it was still great and he managed to get everyone to sing “Über Hügel über Heiden”. It was the last song as usual and we called him back for an encore. This time we got only one, ‘Girl from Vancouver’. With that the concert ended, no matter how much we clapped.

I stuck around, chatting a bit, but mostly listening, until everyone had left. It turned out that we had to leave too and I had to say a rather quick goodbye, hugged the guys and off they were. This was shorter than the other two concert but with such beautiful acoustics and quite a few songs I had not heard yet, I was happy to have come here. It was a good night.


Undir Birktré
Brahms song
Wanderlust (with Kyle and Helena)
Emotional Anorexic with Helena
Tiger and Bear
Ástarsaga úr fjöllunum with Helena
– one other Song in-between? –
Yfir hóla og yfir hæðir

Girl from Vancouver

pictures o this concert

Comments are closed.