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Svavar Knútur / The Rocketboys – Stadtgarten, Cologne; September 19th, 2018

For my second concert of Svavar Knútur’s Ahoy tour The Rocketboys were back to support him. I had loved seeing them last year and was looking much forward to seeing them again. That, the absolutely incredible gig in Münster two weeks earlier and the fact that I’ve never seen a bad Svavar concert in Cologne, made me really excited for the gig. So excited in fact that I was willing to forgive the late start time (8:30 on a weekday with the prospect of a 3 hour concert is rather late) and the knowledge that I would not get much sleep. It was a good and enjoyable gig overall, but I have to admit that it didn’t match the magic of Münster or the great stories I’d heard about the Hamburg concert two night earlier. It was fun though and that is the main thing.

I made it to the gig with lots of time to spare. Usually people arrive early in Cologne, but not this time. Also, my ticket said it would start at 8, but when I said hello to Svavar he told me the concert would not start until 8:30. Oh well, it’s not like I had anyhig else to do. Eventually other people arrived and there were evena few familiar faces among them. The doors opened late, but we had some nice conversations while we waited. Slowly but surely the place filled up. I got a nice spot in front row and talked with the woman sitting next to me.

Svavar walked on stage to make introductions. He asked how many of us had never seen him before and warned us that he might say things that were shocking, but we should just develop Stockholm Syndrome and everything would be OK. 😉 He felt happy to be able to bring a support act on tour and asked us to give a Cologne welcome to The Rocketboys. As they walked on stage they didn’t only ay they were excited to be there, but looked the part too and made some jokes about “dirty uncle Svavar” inviting them on tour.

Their music was just as lovely as I remembered from last year and I enjoyed their set a lot. They also seemed a lot more relaxed than they had been on the previous tour. 🙂 First song was the beautiful ‘Go ahead’ which got me right in the mood. Their songs don’t tell full stories as such, but sort of provide sketches and moods, creating spaces that your own Imagination can fill. If you allow them too, thy will take you on a journey with their music and they did with ‘Away we go’ talking about traveling and something waiting in the northen light. I certainly can relate to that. 🙂

It made me smile to hear the audience slowly warming up to them, the cheers increasing a little with every song. I find their music soothing and just enjoyed listening to their voices and from time to time finding a certain line or phrase that speaks to me and carries me away. The band thanked us for coming early to listen to them and for buying the CD, which according to Svavar all of us would. That was a nice way of advertising. 😉

Many of the songs seemed familiar, but I could not really remember which of those they had played on the previous tour except for ‘That Silver Line’. For ‘Come Home’ they made us sing along and it worked beautifully. “We’re in this together you guys” Brandon said. I enjoyed all the songs he and Justin played, but the one I had been waiting for was the very last: ‘Viva Voce’. That song just makes me happy. Finally i could sing along too. It was the perfect end to their set. 🙂

Setlist

Go ahead
Away we go
Slow down
I will call you Home
That Silver Line
Come Home
Viva Voce

During the break I went and said hello to The Rocketboys briefly and bought the EP they had brought for this tour – better get it while you can. 😉 People got more drinks, more time was passed chatting and finally everyone was ready for Svavar. It felt really late already, but as soon as he stepped on stage it didn’t matter any more.

He mentioned how welcome he felt at this place and thanked us, then explained he needed to prepare us what was going to come like Bob Ross prepares a canvas for painting. Like he often does he was going to start with songs about Weltschmerz, Waldeinsamkeit and Wanderlust, what he named “Deutsche Wundergefühle” (German miracle feelings). And to illustrate why he needed to do that he showed us what he would sound like otherwise. On the spot he made  up a song about being well adjusted and how great his life was going. Of course all the songs would be in major chords. Everyone laughed when he asked if we’d like to listen to 90 minutes of that. Hell noI He compared music ohne Weltschmerz to banana Weissbier. 😀

Since clearly nobody wanted him to do any of that Svavar started with ‘Vetrarsól’. It was one of the few songs that night where he encouraged us to sing along. ‘Morgunn’ was next, which he explained as a song about being alone in the dark in the morning when everything is quiet. The way he described it I could immediately see an Image in my mind – it was very peaceful. Afterwards he told us how nice it is to sing in his own language in a foreign country and how important it is to go out and hear other people’s stories to be inspired for writing songs. Then he continued with ‘Wanderlust’ and once again we sang with him. I always love it when that happens.

This concert felt completely different than the one in Münster and despite some of the same songs being played and some of the same stories being told (with a few new twists too!) the two can’t really be compared. I find it hard to put my finger on it, but the whole atmosphere was different. I can’t say though if it was my mood, Svavar’s mood or just my reflection of what I felt in the room. Most probably it was a combination of all three factors. Either way, I enjoyed being there and smiled happily when ‘Clementine’ came along. It is such a sad song and it often brrigs tears to my eyes, but somehow it always makes me happy too.

Svavar mused about the German ability to get really angry about little things, which is somethig Icelanders don’t do. While laughing, I could not help but nod. The Icelanders I know surely do not get angry easily, while I often do. He was spot on about it. There was a story to underline his obeservation too, but you’ll have to ask Svavar about it. If you’re lucky, he might even show you what Icelanders look like and do when they are really angry. 😉 He spoke a lot of German that night  too, mixing in words and sentences all the time. It made the stories extra funny. 😀 ‘Emotional Anorexic’ followed and as always it made me think of a certain relationship in my life that might have been easier if I weren’t emotional anorexic at times. There is so much truth in this song.

‘Ölduslóð’ brought a story about friendship and how sometimes breakups can make people happy. Then, like in Münster Svavar talked about how amazing it was to see Kris Kristofferson live, showed us how he took his heart, and played ‘Help me make it through the Night’ for us. <3 Next he asked his friend Hidde on stage to join him for a few songs on the double bass. First was ‘While the world burns’, one of his happiest Songs, as he put it. I loved the bass and the harmony singing, but found it really strange that nobody in the audience was singing along.

We learned that Cologne is one of Svavar’s favorite places to play and he thanked everyone involved. He also taught us to say skál properly so we would not run into trouble in Iceland by using skål instead. 😉 ‘Baby would you marry me’ was lovely with Hidde on double bass, but again, there was no sing-along. I started wondering what was wrong with the audience. They cheered and laughed plenty, but were otherwise a bit more quiet than usual.

Hidde got a break and we got a beautiiful version of ‘Cheap imitations’. Svavar told us how there is “not a lot of Rock ‘n’ Roll” in the life of a Singer/Songwriter complete with a crazy story about what happens when his manager visits and they decide to live it up. It was hilarious and involved lots of beer and a flats creen TV. 😀 When it was finished Hidde had rested enough and joined him again. Svavar reminded us that ‘Lady Winter’ was the final song in the play ‘Loreley-Sinking Ships’. That explained while it seemed so familiar to me when I heard it in Münster. I had totally forgotten about it, even though I had loved it when I saw the play.

Someone asked for ‘Girl from Vancouver’ and it came with the story about bullshitting two Canadian girls and a room full of Swiss people. I’d heard the stories in Münster, but now he explained, why he loved bullshitting people from these two nations, because people from one country believe everything and people from the other are always skeptical and thus they provide a different kind of challenge. 😉 We got to hear the theme from Game of Thrones as part of the story too and surprisingly nobody died. 😀 ‘Girl from Vancouver’ was great of course, but even that one did not make people sing along. I did, but it felt wrong somehow.

The always wonderful ‘Tiger and Bear’ was next and put a happy smile on my face. It really captures the feeling that comes across in Janosch’s books. 🙂 Before he ended the concert, Svavar sent us for an easter egg hunt on his new album. I have not found it yet, but I am searching. 😀 ‘The Hurting’ was the final song in the main set, powerful and strong. I’ve loved that one from the moment I first heard it.

The gig had not been long enough yet and we all wanted more so we cheered him back to the stage. He talked about the ‘Mama Mia’ movie as well as ABBA in general and played ‘When all is said and done’ for us. He called Hidde and The Rocketboys back on stage and together they performed and amazing version of ‘The Best’ – it was so good, it unexpectedly brought tears to my eyes. Right then and there, I believed every word they sang. :’) They said goodbye and we managed to call Svavar back one more time for ‘Halfway up the stairs’, but that was it. It was a good show, yet somehow it felt incomplete and a little bit off to me. I think I was missig the sing along. Still, there was no place I would have rather been. 🙂

Before leaving I went to the merch table for a quick chat with The Rocketboys and told them how happy I was to see them again. I gave a quick hug goodbye to Svavar and was on my way. This was the end of this tour for me, but I am already looking forward to Iceland Airwaves.

pictures of this concert

Setlist

Vetrarsól
Morgunn
Wanderlust
Clementine
Emotional Anorexic
Ölduslóð
Help Me Make It Through the Night (Kris Kristofferson cover)
While The World Burns
Baby Would You Marry Me
Cheap Imitations
Lady Winter
Girl From Vancouver
Tiger and Bear
The Hurting

Encore:
When All Is Said and Done (ABBA cover)
The Best (The Rocketboys cover) (with The Rocketboys)
Halfway up the Stairs

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