Good setlist, unbalanced sound and a wonderful encore

Árstíðir – Flensborghus, Flensburg; December 2nd, 2022

With the show in Flensburg, Árstíðir’s Vetrarsól tour kicked off for me for real and I was happy to finally see the full show. It turned out I had missed a few great ones in Utrecht and I really liked the setlist. It was a good first show of the tour.

Arrived in Flensburg in the late afternoon (surprisingly on time) and met up with my friend I. Made a quick stop at the apartment we had rented for the night and went out for dinner before the show. After some good food we found ourselves waiting outside Flensborghus for the doors to open. I had been there before so she knew the right doors and after they opened, we got seats at the front and spent the waiting tine chatting with J., who had arrived as well.

The room was full and everyone cheered loudly as the guys walked on stage – on time I might add. First they greeted us in multiple languages and asked if we had a preference of Danish or German, since we were close to the border and at the “home” of the Danish speaking minority in Flensburg. It seemed to be about equal between people who called for danish and those that answered “German”, so they decided to speak mostly English and show off some of the other languages during the show.

The setlist remained the same they had in Utrecht and started with ‘Ljóð í sand’. The lights at the venue were boring so I left my camera in the bag and allowed myself to be in the moment and the music. It felt good to just relax and enjoy. For ‘Hvenær kemur sól’ Daníel tried to make the announcement in Danish and had to ask for the word for “song”, Gunnar then translated the song titled, but could not remember the word for “sun”. It was funny.

‘Endatafl’ was the first song where I noticed that the sound was slightly off. Something just didn’t seem right. Later, it occurred to me that the piano was a bit loud. It got better again later, but there was no sound engineer in the room so the room so a few times it just wasn’t great. That did not keep me from enjoying the concert though.

‘Later on’ happened without any fuck-ups this time and I happily sang along. The song still hits me deeply and makes me very emotional. <3 ‘Passion’ is always welcome and made me smile. Ragnar talked about having eight albums and 90 minutes to play so they had to make decisions on which song to fit it. At that point I turned to I. and said “or they could play longer” – maybe one day…

I enjoyed the combo of ‘Shine’ and ‘While this way’, two of my favorites back to back, before ‘Shades’ brought the first set to a powerful end. Doing Árstíðir songs in the first half and then mostly Christmas songs in the second half works well for me.

Spent the break getting a T-shirt (they have red ones, how could I resist?) and talking to I. and J. some more. Before we knew it, Guillaume and Jean-Samuel were back on stage to play for us. I like the strings only version of ‘Heyr, hymna smiður’ a lot and it really set the mood for the Christmas set. 😀

Ragnar spoke about growing up in Sweden and how inside the band they had a little “Swedish club”. At that point Gunnar threw in all the Swedish clichés he could think of. 😉 All that led up to ‘Gläns över sjö och strand’, followed by the lovely ‘Jólin alls staðar’. <3

Now it was time for the a cappella set and more traditional Icelandic Christmas songs. Since the country didn’t have musical Instruments until late, they had a tradition of just singing and that’s what they did for us, including the French guys. 😀 It was truly beautiful, especially ‘Hátið fer að höndum ein’ – I have loved this song since I first heard it.

At that point I had to leave the show in Utrecht so I was curious about the songs to come. Ragnar talked about their own Christmas song, ‘Allt er hljótt’, they had written for the yearly show in Reykjavik and how they manages to make it neither Christian nor heathen. Gunnar added a few details and told us that it’s about animals that gather in a barn on a cold night to get warm. It made me very happy to have it on the setlist and I could not remember having heard them play it outside Iceland. It was lovely. <3

Next up was another surprise, ‘Ró’ for which Guillaume joined Ragnar on the piano. Until they played it I didn’t know I had missed the song. 🙂 ‘Things you said’ followed and they ended the set with the Icelandic version of ‘Silent Night’ and they even dared to sing the third verse in Danish. It worked and some of the audience even sang along.

We clapped and cheered loudly and of course they had more for us. First up was ‘Bringing back the Feel’ during which Ragnar wore a hat, Guillaume put on cool sunglasses and Jean-Samuel walked around blowing soap bubbles at the others.  It was great fun! Then, for the very last song, they stepped off the stage and gave us a wonderful version of ‘And so it goes’ – it was the perfect way to end the show.

We said hello to everyone, got some hugs and old them what we had liked. That was a good start, see you tomorrow.

Setlist

Ljóð í sand
Hvenær kemur sól
Ages
Endatafl
Later On
Passion
Shine
While this way
Shades

Heyr, hymna smiður – strings only
Gläns över sjö och strand
Jólin alls staðar
Hátið fer að höndum ein
Ísland farsældafrón
Góða veislu gjöra skal
Allt er hljótt

Things you said
Heims um ból

Bringing back the feel
And so it goes

Vetrarsól tour 2022 – two gigs down, 12 to go. Next stop: Twist

Confusing venue, technical fuck-ups and multi-lingual Christmas songs

Árstíðir – Cloud Nine, Utrecht; November 30th, 2022

Árstíðir’s show in Utrecht was not a planned one, but welcome nonetheless. I had bought the ticket last year and when the tour was canceled I asked for a refund a few times, but never received one, so I decided to go after all. The venue was lovely and even though I had to leave before the show was over, I enjoyed it very much. It was a lovely warm-up for the rest of the tour.

Getting to Utrecht by train worked surprisingly well and despite very short connection time, I caught all the trains and even had time for a proper dinner before the show. Still got to the venue early, needed some time to get my photo pass and ran into M. and friends by the escalator. The venue was on the 9th floor, but so far the downstairs entrance was still closed. When they opened it was up, up, up, until we ended up in front of a closed door to the actual venue. when it as still closed 30 minutes before showtime, I ot nervous. Then suddenly there was movement down the stairs and to another set of stairs that were not visible right away when coming up and led to yet another venue door. Now I was in the back, but luckily one of the others was in before me and saved me a spot. After the weird start it took me some time to get into the mood, but finally I was ready for the show.

Of course they started late and took a break so all my hope of maybe just missing the last song evaporated right then and there. Oh well… as soon as they walked on stage I forgot all about that and cheered loudly. It felt good to have them back.

Ragnar started with telling us he wasn’t sure the show would actually happen after all of this time, since it had been postponed from 2019 and how good it was to finally play it. I feel you brother, I wasn’t sure we’d actually get the Christmas tour this year.

They kicked things off with ‘Ljóð í sand’ and sounded great. 🙂 It is always a great song to ease people into it. The beautiful ‘Hvenær kemur sól’ followed and finally I relaxed, leaned back in my seat and enjoyed. My last, very different, show had been less than a months ago, but I’d missed them already. It was great to have Guillaume back too. <3

The band took us back in time to the very first song they had written together, ‘Ages’. It still works for me and especially the strings sounded amazing. I was smiling already and did so even more when ‘Endatafl’ started. Such a glorious song, where I always have to sing along to the “oooohhhh – aaaahhhh” part. Gunnar spoke about releasing an album only in Icelandic with ‘Pendúll’ and talked about ‘Blik’ next, then announcing ‘Later on’. It’s one of my favorites. <3 We all started laughing when the pre-recorded drums didn’t work. They decided to go on anyway and during the second chorus they replaced the missing drum with clapping. That’s how you deal with fuck-ups professionally. “Oh, later on, we’ll deal with it all later on…” 😉

Ragnar told us that every tour has it’s fuck-ups and they agreed to better get them over with early on. Gunnar joked he was hoping it would not happen again. Ragnar then wondered aloud if he should tell us what they were gonna play next and then asked Daníel if he wanted to tell us. Daníel, his thoughts elsewhere, asked “About the technical difficulties?” “No, about the next song.” More laughter and then Gunnar told us what Passion* is all about. They had not played it in a while and I loved having it back.

Next we got ‘Shine’, which they had not played in a while either. We heard the story about the first mission to Mars that lead to the idea for the song. It was perfect. They continued with the always brilliant ‘While this way’ before closing the first set with ‘Shades’. Ragnar mentioned how they had not played it at Airwaves, but could not possibly leave it at home on this tour. Daníel had even brought the small stand up drum for it – awesome.

For the second set I moved from the front row to the balcony upstairs so I#d be able to slip out without anyone noticing when it was time to go. The view from up there was great.

Guillaume and Jean-Samuel walked on stage on their own and set down to play. First though, Guillaume had to get the baritone guitar out of the way so we’d have an unhindered view. 😉 They played an instrumental version of ‘Heyr, hymna smiður’. Wow!

The others joined them and let them have their moment in the spotlight before continuing the show. Gunnar told us how Ragnar grew up in Sweden and thus would sing a Swedish Christmas song for us. Ragnar added that he feels Dutch is similar to Swedish and we should tell him after if it’s true. ‘Gläns över sjö och strand’ was lovely for sure.

We got ‘Jólin alls staðar’, an Icelandic Jazz standard that is often played for Christmas. Oh yes, I knew that one. We then learned about Icelandic fifth and they gave us an example before retreating to the back around the double microphone for the next three songs. They gave us ‘.Hátið fer að höndum ein’ , ‘Ísland farsældafrón’ and finally ‘Góða veislu gjöra skal’. All three were beatifully done.

After the second song, I had moved to the door and left right after the third, because I had a train to catch. Managed to make all my connections and was home around 1 am, sad that I’d missed the rest of the show, but very happy for what I got. It was a good start and I can’t wait to see more soon.

Setlist

Ljóð í sand
Hvenær kemur sól
Ages
Endatafl
Later On
Passion
Shine
While this way
Shades

Heyr, hymna smiður – strings only
Gläns över sjö och strand
Swedish Christmas Song
Jólin alls staðar
Hátið fer að höndum ein
Ísland farsældafrón
Góða veislu gjöra skal

Vetrarsól tour 2022 – one gig down, 13 to go. Next stop: Flensburg