Come and shelter me here from hell

Árstíðir / Myrkur / Sólstafir – Alhambra, Paris; November 20th, 2017

Wow, what a show! Paris brought me exactly what I had hoped for: Great music, a great audience and the perfect venue for it. After Lille I knew I would have fun watching Sólstafir, but it was much more than that: I loved everything about it. The music, the energy, the emotions that came with it. Needless to say I loved Árstíðir’s set too, even though it was over in a heartbeat. Myrkur still did not do much for me, but I didn’t mind her set either. So while I had contemplated skipping Berlin before the show started, I really wanted to go when it was over. This was as good as it was going to get. 🙂

I left Lille in the pouring rain and arrived to Paris an hour later in better weather. Didn’t do much before the gig and arrived early as usual. I wasn’t the first person though, one guy was waiting already. Got a little worried about having brought my camera, because a sign on the door said they were not allowed. Asked Erin when she came out to smoke and she said she had different rules and it was fine. 🙂 While we waited Aðalbjörn came out, coffee in hand and chatted with us for a bit. It was really nice. :). About ten minutes before the doors open, Erin decided to walk me in, told everyone the camera was OK and even provided me with a photo pass. Wow! 😀 Since I was inside, I got to witness the end of Árstíðir’s soundcheck too. <3 Said hello to them briefly, before they disappeared backstage. Someone from the crew noticed that Myrkur’s backdrop was upside down and it took a while until it was fixed. The funniest part was that I was hardly able to tell the difference. 😉 Soon after the doors opened and I watched as people filed in. The venue was really nice with an upstairs seated area and a slightly rising floor downstairs that also allowed for seats, but didn’t have any that day.

At first I thought the venue was somewhat empty, but it filled up soon enough and there was a good crowd by the time the lights went down and Árstíðir walked on stage. The setlist remained the same, yet somehow everything was so much better than the previous day. It might have been the fact that the sound was brilliant, i.e. not only the singing was clear, but I could also understand every word they said. Or it might have been because I was just better rested and thus more open to everything. Either way, I loved every minute of it and felt very much in tune with the music. I noticed the girl next to me taking notes on my phone and smiled because I have done the same thing at times. This night, I just enjoyed. Took a few pictures too, but mostly just watched and smiled, especially when the audience cheered after every song. I have no idea how many of them had seen the band before, but some yelled when Ragnar asked who had seen them in Paris four years ago and I judging by the cheers I am sure many liked what they heard.

The set is a good representation of their music from powerful to slower and softer in the middle to powerful again in the end. It works well as an introduction to their music, especially moving towards the style of the upcoming album. I still love many of the old songs dearly, but I like the direction they are taking now. ‘Mute’ was brilliant. It is still growing on me every time I hear it. Can’t find the words to describe it, just that it builds up slowly and dramatically towards a strong chorus, which does not really say anything about this particular song.  You’ll just have to go see them live or wait until the album comes out. 😉 In the current set it is my favorite next to ‘Systir’. There is something about both of these songs that draws me in and resonates with me.

During the concert we learned that the current rendition of ‘Heyr, hymna smiður’ is in A minor and some other random information like how much they love French cheese or how good the backstage mood on this tour is. 🙂 This tour takes me back to 2013 in many ways, even though not only the band line-up has changed since then. I still have great memories of that tour and his one is building up to give me the same. I’m really glad I choose to see a few shows and not skip it entirely. Maybe they’ll even change the setlist a little until I see them next time. Anyway, I loved seeing them work and wished it could have been longer. It was exactly what I had hoped for. Until Airwaves I had not realized how much I’d missed seeing and hearing the guys play. <3 ‘Shades’ was the grand finale again and worked better for me this time. It is a great song, with or without string players on stage and works perfectly to close the set.

Setlist

Himinhvel
Things you said
Mute
Heyr, himna smiður
Someone who cares
Systir
Shades

I wasn’t looking forward to Myrkur all that much, but decided to give her another chance before writing it off as the part of the show I would just have to get through. Her music is alright after all, I just do not like the screaming, Once again she and her band did their job well, but it didn’t touch me at all. She has a nice voice so I listened when she didn’t scream and otherwise concentrated on the music and on taking pictures. Her outfit had changed from light the previous day to dark, this time matching with the dark clothed band members. It was all fine, it fit with he theme of the evening and overall I didn’t mind, but I will never be a fan. There were a few people who seemed to be there to see her though and they enjoyed it so I was happy they got a good show. 🙂

Setlist

Mareridt
The Serpent
Ulvinde
Onde børn
Jeg er guden, i er tjenerne
Måneblôt
Elleskudt
Skøgen skulle dø
Skaði

There was nobody to chat with since everyone around me was talking French so I just watched as the stage was changed with Daníel and Ragnar hard at work amongst others. Even Erin was helping. Only Gunnar was nowhere to be seen. They got done quickly and when the music started and Sólstafir walked on stage I cheered with everyone else. They rocked the house from the start and it already felt a lot more familiar than the first time around. This time, when they asked who had seen them before, I raised my hand along with many others. The previous night, I had simply not understood the question due to the strange sound at the venue. Must have been the typical front row problem. Tonight though, everything about the sound was perfect. I understood every word and clearly heard every note. 😀

The songs are very long and I must admit I found it difficult at times to tell when one ends and the next one starts, but that did not spoil my enjoyment. I simply got lost in the flow of the music and enjoyed seeing the band work. Each one of them knows their job well and each one of them gets into it very much. It certainly looked like they were having fun. Everything sounded much better to me than through the haze of tiredness the previous day and it had not been bad then either. Still unfamiliar with their material, I recognized a few of the songs , but was sure one or two had been changed. Only after the show I learned that it had been the same setlist. I was starting to not only really enjoy the music, but feel it. Some songs started speaking to me, move me, work their way into my heart. It came unexpected, but I welcomed it whole-heartedly. Concerts are always better when the songs speak to me in one way or another.

The audience was amazing, cheering the band on between songs and hanging on to Aðalbjörn’s every word. Since the venue had two levels he addressed each level separately when asking how we were doing. People upstairs were seated so he decided to let them do a wave – they did, all the way from one side to the other. It was great! Later on he asked us to imagine seeing Iron Maiden, “the greatest metal band in the world” and cheer as if we were at one of their concerts. Then he separated us into groups by gender and decided that the women won the cheering contest. That prompted a guy in the audience to comment that “Someone wanted to get laid later”. The answer “I am taken, but Svavar here is available.” I think he talked a lot more than the previous night or at least it felt like it.

We were right up against the stage this time without any barrier so there was no platform in front of the stage for Aðalbjörn could step on. That did not keep him from moving all the way from one end of the stage to the other though. He leaned out often and towards the end of the concert he rolled up his microphone cable and decided to venture into the crowd, right where I stood. he even used my shoulder for support as he stepped down, then moved way to the back. Eventually the cable ran out and he pulled at it. People stated helping, i.e. pulling and Daníel came running, untangling what was left of it and holding on to the connection piece. I tried to help him and he looked slightly panicky there for a moment, afraid the connection would break. It didn’t, the crowd loved the little excursion and Aðalbjörn safely made it back to the stage. 😀

Then everything got more serious. he talked about depression and how many people suffer from it in silence, with many committing Suicide. He stated that if we knew anyone who did  suffer from depression we should take care of them and keep communicating, because we might be the only people to talk to them and the only ones helping them to hold on. Reaching out is the one thing we can do and it’s important to be reminded of that once in a while. The power and passion flowing into the next song drove the point home and me close to tears.

The show ended with the band playing a crazy finale with Hallgrímur playing the drums like a madman, Svavars braids flying all over, Aðalbjörn and Sæþór dropping to their knees and Ragnar picking up the Hammond organ an playing it in the air. It instantly put the smile back on my face. It was official, I was falling for this band, thoroughly enjoying the gig and wanting to see more. When they ended the last song and came to the front for a final bow, I cheered and screamed loudly. Hell yeah, this was awesome!

pictures of this concert

Setlist

Silfur-Refur
Ótta
Lágnætti
Ísafold
Köld
Hula
Fjara
Bláfjall
Goddess of the Ages

This time the merch stand was inside the concert hall so quite a few people were still around. I waited near the stage for a while and Ragnar dropped by for a chat. I told him how much I had loved it and that I felt he was even more into it than the previous night. he confirmed that he was getting more confident with the material and having lots of fun. We also agreed that Sólstafir’s music gets under your skin. Soon he had to get back to work and we hugged goodbye. I spoke to everyone in Sólstafir too, bought their latest album after confirming the song I liked best was on there and got it signed by everyone. Had a brief chat with Erin too and finally made my way home, feeling elated, knowing that somehow, I had to make it possible to go to Berlin.

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