Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Nine years without a studio album. Nearly five years without a tour. But Icelandic band Sigur Rós checked the latter off the list, finally back onstage.
Sigur Rós' music was built on moods and textures. Labelled a post rock band, the songs from the quartet typically built up in layers. Keyboardist Kjarri Sveinsson often started a song in moderate, quieter tones before Jonsi's falsetto vocals took charge. He droned on along with the music, not varying all that much in approach. The band was all dressed completely in black perhaps emphasizing the intensity. So was the staging, which for the most part was in very dark lighting.
Sigur Rós broke the evening into two almost equal sets totaling a lengthy 2:45.
While the opening set sounded familiar, Sigur Rós unleashed the chains immediately on "Glósóli" to start the second segment. The roar of guitar from Jonsi , who almost entirely used a bow on his guitar, and bass courtesy of Georg Holm commanded the stage with the bass in particular growing louder and louder in intensity and volume after often sounding muddy in the first set. That would happen at varying points throughout, a welcome change of the musical colors.
And colorful the staging was with a three-screen backdrop and various colors and patterns on the screens as the music played, enhancing the mood affect.
Just what any of the songs are about remained a true mystery because Jonsi either sang in Icelandic or Vonlenska, the latter of which is a made-up language. It sounded like he may have sung in English on one song, but that was far from certain. The songs could have been about anything or perhaps nothing.
Jonsi's vocals were more about setting the tone and mood of the evening, as a result. At times, each song seemingly consisted of very very few words because it sounded as if Jonsi was repeating one word over and over and over.
Jonsi ws not exactly a dynamo on stage. He muttered something about "Boston" early on. One suspects that it was to the effect of being happy to be here and again at the end. But he might as well have been speaking in vonlenska since it was very hard to understand exactly what he was saying.
Sigur Rós' brand of dense, intense music is not for everyone. Unlike McCartney, it's not exactly the kind of music with a chorus that sticks in your head (one or two songs sounded like they, in fact, have one).
But Sigur Rós is not an entity that would ever be beholden to pop music conventions. Coming out right after the music ended without an encore, the smiles on their faces and appreciation of the crowd, which only came to its feet at the very end, made it clear that Sigur Rós was most satisfied with the results.