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solstafir Christuskirche, Bochum, Germany
14th March 2019
Sólstafir - “The Midnight Sun: A Light In The Storm” Tour

A very special concert awaited the approximately 1,000 visitors of the Christuskirche in Bochum on this Thursday evening. However, anyone who thinks of a gospel choir or an organ requiem at a Protestant church could not be more wrong. Instead, SÓLSTAFIR had announced their arrival from Iceland. Those gentlemen who have referred to themselves in the past as “Antichristian Icelandic Heathen Bastards”. Therefore, it was not surprising that the band’s founder, singer and guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, also said that he had never imagined he could ever play in a German church.

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That this could nevertheless happen is undoubtedly also due to the open-mindedness of those responsible for the Christuskirche, because this is not a secularized property, which was given a new secular purpose, but a worship room, which is called Church of Cultures and in addition to the religious use also just a lot of space for concerts or readings. A special stroke of luck in this context is the architecture and the associated acoustics of modern sacred architecture. The Christuskirche undoubtedly has a concert hall level and thanks to the prism-like roof fold, the visual background is also a real treat.

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SÓLSTAFIR plays a very contemporary form of Rock music, their roots are clearly Metal, as evidenced by their debut ‘Í Blóði og Anda’ (2002), which means something like “In Blood and Spirit”. However, the successors, ‘Masterpiece of Bitterness’ (2005) and ‘Köld’ (2009), already show clear signs of musical broadening of horizons. With the ground-breaking albums ‘Svartir Sandar’ (2011) and ‘Ótta’ (2014), SÓLSTAFIR finally left the path of any clear categorization. Both albums were critically acclaimed and opened the way for them to a new audience - and also managed the feat to inspire the vast majority of their following from earlier days also. With ‘Berdreyminn’, SÓLSTAFIR set course for new horizons. Nevertheless, the Icelanders always have their homeland with them and the outline of their ships always remains clearly recognizable. Welcome aboard to a musical adventure in uncharted realms! /

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Music & Performance
The location could not have been better for a SÓLSTAFIR gig. Especially as the already mentioned Aðalbjörn and Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson (guitar), bassist Svavar Austman Traustason (this year even blessed with four plaited braids), Hallgrímur Jón “Grimsi” Hallgrímsson (drums) and borrowed by the friendly country people ÁRSTÍÐIR Ragnar Ólafsson at the keys not had come alone, but also had brought a four-piece string ensemble. The current tour, “The Midnight Sun: A Light In The Storm”, is namely under special sign and this includes just classical-looking strings and a real piano. Punctually at 20.00 clock, there was first heard the well-known ‘Náttfari’ from the band, to which the nine musicians took their seats to provide with ‘Náttmál’ from the 2014 ‘Ótta’ for an orchestral prelude with a lot of melancholy. The ladies quartet sat here almost in complete darkness on their instruments, slowly the spacious stage was bathed in blue and red light and the opulent finale of the number suggested that SÓLSTAFIR had lost none of their bite even with female accompaniment.

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Meanwhile, blue twilight provided visual highlights in rhythm-driven ‘Ótta’, while the silent, well-guarded six-string man Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson picked up the banjo before opening ‘Dýrafjörður’ with piano chords and strings. Massive guitar walls followed in intense slow-motion to change in the episode with ‘Hula’ from the last album ‘Berdreyminn’, which was released in 2017, between quieter passages and large cutlery. Ragnar sat down for this purpose to the powerless piano and the audience was allowed to watch as the bearded Mr. Tryggvason dancing with stretched arms across the stage. Thanks to ‘Miðaftann’ it was almost contemplative and a certain amount of desperation came into play - it is actually the case that SÓLSTAFIR with their very own, sometimes psychedelic Metal sound also reflects the ruggedness of Iceland. After 45 minutes, a 15-minute break was on the agenda at this point, so that fluid losses could be compensated and also the bubble had to stop before it went into the second half.

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The audience was called back to their seats by the ladies on the violin & co, who in a really charming way to draw the audience back to their seats, to finally turning their attention to the punchy ‘Lágnætti’. Ragnar had returned to his keys and knobs, Aðalbjörn expressed the desperation that the song implemented with screams, and they found their visible counterpart again in the light bars that flashed with each scream in the background. The fast-paced ‘Hvít sæng’ with its lower-pitched sound slats proved how well the lighting concept suited the music. A serious and for the 1994 founded band very important topic addressed the front man in the run-up to the number ‘Necrologue’ from the 2009 ‘Köld’: It was about depression and that no one has to be ashamed of this disease and victims should definitely seek help. Clearly, this piece was also of an almost tangible intensity, as evidenced by the red illumination of the nave, on the sidewalls of which huge silhouettes of the singer could be seen. With the great ‘Fjara’ (released on ‘Svartir Sandar’ in 2011), the regular set ended with the euphoric applause of those present, who, amazingly, had kept it on the benches all the time. Of course, the fans were glad to follow the invitation to join in and together they celebrated this high-energy hymn for ten minutes.

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Obviously, the ladies and gentlemen musicians at their workplace felt very well, because they renounced the obligatory departure for the encore and animated the audience instead to loud boos, which they had to exclaim on the “Good Night” by Aðalbjörn. They were clearly in play mood and with ‘Kukl’ the Icelanders also had a song in their quiver which is not part of the standard repertoire and also so moving that the concert visitors in the end did not dare to gossip. Now only the indispensable ‘Goddess of The Ages’ was missing, with a band conception and final interactions with the raptured followers were connected. At the end, therefore, at 22:05, the band earned a standing ovation and the recognition of being part of an absolutely unique gig. Incidentally, a finding that might have been even SÓLSTAFIR itself.

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The guys from the rugged island in the North Atlantic definitely gave me a colossal evening - and of course we do not want to forget the string quartet, which has also made its well-sounding contribution to the success of this magnificent concert.

01. Náttmál
02. Ótta
03. Dýrafjörður
04. Hula
05. Miðaftann
06. Lágnætti
07. Hvít sæng
08. Necrologue
09. Fjara
10. Kukl
11. Goddess of The Ages

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8.5 / 10

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All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( /

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