Árstíðir – Græni Hatturinn, Akureyri; May 6th 2017
Sitting at Kaffihús Vesturbæjar in Reykjavik, too tired to go anywhere or do anything else, I am reminiscing about last night’s Árstíðir concert and can’t help but smile at the memories. I have not loved and enjoyed one of their concerts so thoroughly in a long time and that says a lot considering how much I loved the last one I saw. Everything about this concert was perfect: the sound, the song selection, the audience and the mood the guys were in. I was smiling all the way through and came close to tears several times. For the first time in a long time I felt every note and needed to close my eyes a few times to listen to my heart sing along with the music. This, right there was the magic I keep going on about, this, right there, was why I keep going back.<3
Arrived in Reykjavik late Friday night, didn’t get enough sleep and awoke to thick fog in the morning. It was somewhat eerie, yet strangely beautiful to walk through the streets and not being able to see further than a few meters. Around 11 the fog lifted though and it turned into a beautiful sunny day. It was warm, summer temperatures by Icelandic standards. At 2 pm I flew up to Akureyri where the weather was just as nice and seemed even warmer. Just being back in Iceland made me feel so happy. Somehow I breathe easier when I am here. “Feel lighter further from home…”Spent a lot of time walking around the city and ran into Gunnar, Daníel and Hallgrímur about two hours before the concert. I had not told anyone I was coming so they were surprised and happy to see me.
One hour later I found myself outside the door of Græni Hatturinn talking to the only other person in line. They opened at 9 on the dot and I took a table in front, slightly left of center, my usual spot at any venue. I worked on some pictures until Ragnar showed up and we chatted for a while. He had guessed I might be coming by my Instagram pictures, even though I had tried not to make them too obvious. 😉 We made plans for his upcoming solo tour in Poland and he shared a few album in the making stories with me.
They started surprisingly early (i.e. just a few minutes after 10 pm). ‘Himinhvel’ was the first song and I was blown away by the sound. It was absolutely amazing, loud and clear and feeling so much bigger than the venue looked. At first I though it was gonna be one of those darkish venues, but soon the full stage lights came on and they were great too. Wow, I certainly had not expected this. For the first time that night I closed my eyes, because I could not bear all the beauty of the song. It was as if I was experiencing it for the first time. <3
The setlist content had not changed since the last time around, but with the perfect sound every song felt new and fresh and wonderful. They started out great and only got better during the concert. Even the familiar songs seemed extra special that night as if the guys were finding new joy in performing them. The audience loved it and showed their appreciation from the start. The band fed of this energy and gave it right back to us. I felt so much love for the guys I could hardly contain it. ‘Silfurskin’ was the first song that brought me close to tears and it happened many more times that night. Now, thinking back, I am crying for real – happy tears. <3
When Árstíðir started using new and more effects after Karl’s departure, it was a lot of trying to figure things out in the beginning. It worked mostly, but was always a bit of hit and miss. Since Christmas, they seemed to have gotten the hang of it and this night, I really loved what they did, bringing new life to some of the songs. Especially ‘Someone who cares’ surprised me. I always loved the song, but it seemed so much stronger than before. ‘Systir’ was also a song I thought was finished by now, but it had evolved once again and was beyond amazing!
The new songs have evolved once again as well, since I last heard them. ‘Passion’ was the highlight of the first set for me. It left me with my mouth hanging open. So much more powerful than I remembered it and just beyond amazing! ‘The Circus’ was still just as great as I remembered it, but I’m gonna need a few more listens to fully grasp it. The lyrics speak to me, but I haven’t even fully understood them yet. That was never a hindrance with this band though. The Icelandic songs speak volumes to me and with most I still don’t have a clue what they are about. 🙂
Speaking of not having a clue: Except for one time when Gunnar asked how many people in the room did not speak Icelandic and decided we were the minority and thus had to live with it, they never spoke a word of English. And they did talk a lot. There was some banter with the audience too, all of which got lost to me, but I still had tons of fun and when everyone was laughing it was absolutely contagious. 😀 Clearly the guys were enjoying themselves and it showed. they seemed to play and sing with ease, totally comfortable in their skins. I loved seeing them so happy and it made me happy in turn. <3
‘Friðþægingin’ was the outstanding finale of the first set. Why this song has not been on the setlist forever is beyond me. It has so much energy, it is hard to remain seated. Would be a perfect show closer too. Maybe one day…. 🙂 For now though, the concert wasn’t over yet. The break went by quickly, I exchanged a few impressions with Ragnar who was just as happy as I was and felt things were going well. I could only agree and there was more to come.
Set two started with the core band gathered around one microphone, playing guitars. I was happy they had kept this little acoustic set. It worked nicely and this way even ‘Ages’ gets new life. I still have not figured out which Crosby, Stills and Nash song ‘Með hallandi höfði’ is a cover of, but that only shows how little I know about them. I haven’t really been trying either. 😉 I found the song very enjoyable nonetheless and was once again happy with ‘Látum okkur sjá’.
‘Ljoð í sand’ and ‘Nú gleymist ég’ back to back was a great combination. I had the feeling they loved singing those songs again after some time where they were just played because people wanted to hear them. I loved singing along too and briefly wondered if any of the stuff I was singing actually made sense. 😉 It didn’t matter, I was enjoying myself. What a great gift to have the opportunity to witness this concert, how lucky I was to be there. I felt nothing but love for the music and the band. “And all these feelings of unnecessary weight are lost and never found”.
‘You again’ and ‘Shades’ closed the set, but nobody in the room was willing to let them go just yet. One woman seemed to have a special request. I have no idea what she actually asked for, but at the start of the encores the guys stood in front of her, singing ‘Heyr, himna smiður’ to her. During one verse, Ragnar even got down on his knees and serenaded her – priceless! Needless to say she loved it! 😀 The very last song was ‘Heiðin’ and that too had gotten new life somehow. 🙂 I loved all of it, smiled, cried, held my breath at times, closed my eyes and let the music carry me. The magic still works. <3 It was totally worth the trip and I felt deeply grateful to have been there.
I thanked them for the wonderful evening, chatted a bit and finally left since there were no plans of going out. I was content with what I had and spent quite some time thinking about the concert before I finally fell asleep. I have no idea when I will see the guy again. Gunnar said realistically the new album will come out next year and I doubt there will be much touring before. Either way, I know it is going to be amazing and until then I have great memories to carry me. <3
Things you said
Icelandic a cappella song
See you later
Með hallandi höfði (Crosby, Stills & Nash cover)
Látum okkur sjá
Ljoð í sand
Nú gleymist ég
Someone who cares
Heyr, himna smiður