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ennlfrdeitrues
introPalladium, Cologne, Germany
13th October 2017
Sigur Rós

Attending a live performance truly takes the experience of this otherworldly music to a higher level! The now three-piece had announced their European autumn tour at the beginning of the year with a video trailer and delivered nothing less than a spectacular audio-visual masterpiece on stage. The more than two hour long evening with SIGUR RÓS in the sold-out Palladium omitted a support act and offered two sets separated by an intermission instead. Featuring well-loved songs as well as new material, the show also provided a preview to the 8th studio album currently on the way.

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Active since 1994, the band is well established as one of Iceland’s finest music exports. International recognition came with their second album ‘Ágætis byrjun’ (translating to "A Good Beginning"), released in 1999. Their extraordinary post-rock sound featuring melodic, classical, experimental, as well as minimalist elements, continues to enchant a wide audience. Hallmarks are the falsetto vocals and the bowed guitar. As the vocals are delivered in Icelandic and the made-up Hopelandic language, the audience is invited to use their own imagination to interpret and feel the songs. Seven albums have been released since their first one ‘Von’ in 1997 and more than four years have passed now since their latest album ‘Kveikur’, the heaviest one, was released in 2013. With their ethereal ambient sounds, they conjure soundscapes that are connected to Iceland´s nature and identity and manage to span a range from light and flowing sounds to heavy and eruptive peaks. Ten years ago, this strong connection was also represented in their feature-length documentary ‘Heima’ (“At home”), which features their summer tour live concerts across the country and the Icelandic nature, as well as interviews.

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Music & Performance
The sold-out Palladium provided a suitable hall to contain this stunning and intense musical and visual experience. Starting light with the ethereal ‘Á’, the first part of the show built up to a crescendo in the second part. From the first notes on the band managed to create an atmosphere that captured the audience and made it possible to fully immerse in it. Not much later, bathed in flowing light and backed up by abstract projections, the sight of singer Jónsi sawing on his guitar with a bow - the sound humming in your ears, the sternum, then flooding the entire body and opening up the mind. Constructed in perfection, the light design formed an organic entity with the music and would actually deserve its very own review! The set built with twig-like, cross-shaped tubes, large background projections, as well as the stage dividing grid, that also served as a projection surface, embedded the band in a glowing and ever changing magical landscape. The journey led through dreamy vertically and horizontally flowing lights, bathing in icy colours, showering in sparkles, as well as eruptive explosions and being flooded with bright red light and geometric shapes. With ‘Varða’ as the last song of the first set, the band showed how they take time with their songs. -Not a single moment felt too long!

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After the break, which was much needed to let the impressions sink in for a moment, the second part started with the band playing behind the dividing grid that was slowly lifted later on. Georg Hólm standing one the left side provided serene and powerful basslines while Orri Páll Dýrason to the right managed to switch between playing the keyboard and drumming like rolling thunder. Another highlight was singer Jónsi Birgisson’s longest vocal breath wafting through the air for what felt like minutes. With ‘Vaka’ they added one more quieter song, before raising the density with ‘Festival’ and coming to the heavy and more raw sounding ‘Kveikur’. They finished the show with the intense ‘Popplagið’ and flashing beams of bright strobe-light, leaving the audience stunned and in a trance-like state. What followed were several rounds of cheering applause and a rain of several drumsticks.

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This is a band that knows how to create an intense experience and intimacy without much banter, but by pouring authentic sound and emotion into the space that could fill entire stadiums. The show was overwhelmingly beautiful and will need its time to process.

Setlist
Set 1:
01. Á
02. Ekki Múkk
03. Glósóli
04. E-Bow
05. Dauðalagið
06. Fljótavík
07. Niður
08. Varða
---
Set 2:
09. Óveður
10. Sæglópur
11. Ný Batterí
12. Vaka
13. Festival
14. Kveikur
15. Popplagið

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 10
Light: 10
Total: 10 / 10

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All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)


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