Tuesday, 3 November 2009

760 SIGUR ROS, For A Minor Reflection, Bristol Colston Hall, Friday 7 November 2008

Ah, Sigur Ros. I must confess I'm a latecomer to the strange and unusual musical world that Sigur Ros inhabit, but after I'd heard the starkly beautiful "Hoppipola" I'd succumbed to the charms of Iceland's finest, finding them inconsistent yet otherworldly beautiful on record, painting occasional musical soundscapes of stark melancholy and anthems of euphoric delight, which more than made up for their otherwise forays into stuff sounding, well, like whales shagging at the bottom of a fjord. And, following their most accessible album yet, this year's "Med Sut I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endelaust" (incomprehensibly named, but hey, there's tunes on it! Songs, even!), they announced this tour for which I was only too eager to snap up tickets, to see what the spiritual forefathers to the likes of Mew, Kent and The Kissaway Trail would be like "live".

Unfortunately, Rachel wasn't. She couldn't get past the whale-song thing, so I recruited Beef, who was too slow off the blocks to get his own ticket. Found out why as we got there following a trip down a rainy M4; a tout was willing to pay up to £80 for spare tickets!

We'd hit the venue just in time for the tannoy announcement that, "this evening's performance is about to commence!" so we took a spot stage left for the support band, Iceland's For A Minor Reflection. Initially promising, with some atmospheric guitar soundscapes building to crescendos, they however degenerated into aimless noise. A full instrumental set, no tunes really - I don't know, I like the guitar crescendo thing, but only when there are tunes attached!

No problem on that score with Sigur Ros, however; they took the stage at 9, 4 ordinary looking blokes who create an extraordinary spell with their music. They kicked into the sonar blip of the opener "Svefn-G" from their breakthrough debut, weaving a low slow hush embellished by the elegant falsetto from their betassled and glitter-eyed vocalist Jonsi, which culminated in him holding the final note for seemingly ages - he well deserved the subsequent gulp of air!

Sigur Ros were breathtaking if surprisingly conventional. I don't know what I'd expected really; aliens beaming down from a spacecraft perhaps? What we got however was actually just a band playing songs, albeit songs of intense beauty, stunning melancholy and dazzling euphoria. "Vid Spilum Endelaust" was a military march of delight, akin to The Kissaway Trail, with follow-up "Hoppipola" a piano-led thing of astral beauty. "Med Blod" featured the vocalist coaxing savage noises from his guitar, using an E-bow, and the slow-burn "Saeglopur" also featured a wonderfully observed pregnant pause. Hooray!

The set climaxed with the support joining Sigur Ros onstage for a drum-led "Gobbledigook", all in dresses and banging portable drums. Fire and tickertape sprayed the crowd as this clapalong number climaxed the set triumphantly, before a hushed "All Alright" and a sinewy, savage "Popplagrid" ended 1 hour and 40 minutes of sonic delight. Conventional yet unconventional at the same time, Sigur Ros were wonderful tonight - well worth coming late into their strange musical world!

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