Becky and I were fortunate enough to attend the Sigur Ros show last night at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Minneapolis. This is the second time we’ve seen the band live, the first time being back in 2006. Since then, the band have released a full length film documenting their tour of Iceland, an EP set featuring acoustic and live performances of old and unreleased songs and a new proper album this year. Not bad for two years work!
This tour marked the first time in years that the band ventured out without the support of Amiina (the quartet that played strings on most of their albums). I was interested to hear how their songs would fair without that lovely undercurrent of strings.
The night opened with a short set by a band called Parachutes. They are also from Iceland and are friends of Sigur Ros. Their set opened with a solo trombone player with a loop pedal creating a lovely piece while the band got set. The band owes a lot of their sound to Sigur Ros. They featured falsetto vocals and marching drum beats with bells and strings bubbling hear and there. A very promising new band.
Sigur Ros took the stage in a very different manner than the last show I saw. Instead of beginning with bombastic rock, they clustered together and began with a gentle rendition of the closing track from Takk… entitled “Heysatan” (“haystack”). They followed with two slow tracks from their newest album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (“with a buzz in our ears we sing endlessly”) before beginning to build. It was amazing how still and attentive the crowd was through the gentle beginnings of the set. There were obviously people there who knew these songs and wanted to hear them.
The band moved through a set that contained a sampling from each of their five studio albums. The energy peaked as the band moved from a rocking rendition of “Saeglopur” into what’s become a staple of their live shows: “Hafsol”. They proceeded to end their set with their new single, the hippie-ish “Gobbledigook”. They invited members of Parachutes out to play some extra drums for the song and the song bounced along until the ending when confetti cannons fired into the crowd and the entire theater erupted. The air was so thick with paper that we could hardly see the stage from the 6th row where we were sitting! It was amazing.
After a moment, the band returned for a short encore which included one of my favorite songs: “Popplagið” (“the pop song”). The dark pulse of this song makes it a perfect closer.
When the band returned one final time to take a bow, their smiles and appreciation were quite evident. This is a band that, while enigmatic and seemingly withdrawn, has developed a passion for their craft and takes great joy in sharing their art with others. They are doing what they love and believe in and that makes them magnetic. How else do you explain the fact that a band that only has one song in english and whose songs often push the 10 minute mark has sold out the Orpheum theater the last three times they’ve played it?
Inní mér syngur vitleysingur
Við spilum endalaust
Viðrar vel til loftárása