Monday, March 4, 2013

Live Review: Sigur Rós, Hall 3, SECC, Glasgow, 03/02/2013

03/02/2013, 09:40: Ok, before we get started, I have a confession to make - I'm beginning this write-up before the show in question, and am thereby breaking my own golden rule of live reviewing. It's not something I want to make a habit of - nothing after all is more detrimental to objectivity than pre-formed opinions - but I think I can make an exception for my first Sigur Rós experience, as I anticipating it to be just that - an experience. One of the finest bands of our times, promising a mixture of old classics and brand new material, before thousands of lovely Scots in my favourite city on Earth; don't tell me I shouldn't have expectations! Anyway, I've always felt that feelings are best expressed in the heat of the moment, so what I'm going to attempt is a sparodic, and no doubt shambolic, running commentary of the night's events, completely unedited, aside perhaps for the odd unnecessary expletive once the beverages kick in. As of now, I'm on the train from Newcastle to Glasgow. I'm absolutely shattered having stayed up way too late gawping at Heima in preparation, and I'm trying to stave off that tiredness with a selection of the city's finest: Rick Redbeard, RM Hubbert, Belle & Sebastian, etc. I love Glasgow!

18:45: The gig begins in about an hour. Excitement has been simmering ever since we got our tickets sorted way back in September, but now it's starting to boil over. We're in the pub, but we're not drinking much, mainly because we actually want to remember something once we wake up in the morning. What we are doing is (i) plotting where best to position ourselves so as to optimise both the sound and inevitable visual extravaganza and (ii) trying in vein to keep a lid on our expectations.

20:30: In the SECC. Sigur Rós are due onstage in about half an hour. We've found the ideal spot, slap bang in the middle, about 10 rows from the front; perfect for soaking up every last strand of sensual stimulus. The support act, Blanck Mass has just finished. It's essentially a solo project from Fuck Buttons' Benjamin John Power, and he's signed to local heroes Mogwai's Rock Action label. You can see why they took a shine to him too. Initially I was concerned his layered, droning atmospherics were meandering with no purpose, but once the first beat kicked in after about 15 minutes his set built really nicely. My enjoyment of his bleeps and bloops were not however aided by the moron behind me navigating his girlfriend to him through the enormous crowd. SHUT UP CUNT!

20:58: The lights are out. Here we go...

21:20: No one's saying a word or moving a muscle. I think I'm melting. This is incredible. I can already say without the slightest qualm this'll be my gig of the year, by such a distance it's not even funny. Jonsi's just done the most majestic bow guitar solo. It sounded amazing, but visually... FUUUCK. His shadow was silhouetted against the curtain between stage and crowd... tassels flailing magnificently... growing with the light effects as if ascending to the world above, or something. I don't know, that's probably not hyperbolic enough to do it justice.

21:30: The curtain is down, the screens are out. The glorious opening bars of "Vaka" are gently caressing my ears. This shit's gone up to a whole new level. Two people have just shuffled past us on their way out of the front few rows. They're either completely insane (seriously, you would piss yourself during this) or they've just learned of the death of a close relative. Honestly, if the latter happened to me, I'm pretty sure I'd just stay here. Does that make me a terrible person?

22:00: Nope. I can't avoid it any longer. Until about an hour ago, Bright Eyes at The Sage Gateshead was the single greatest live performance I'd ever witnessed. They're currently being brutally raped and left to rot in a trench by a troupe of Icelandic angels. Seriously, how can 13 (I think) mortal humans create these sounds? How can they combine such a diverse range of instruments into a collage so utterly bewildering, not to mention note perfect. I DON'T UNDERSTAND!

22:07: A short selection of quotes I've overheard from those around me:

"This is like being aroused by God." (Big hairy kid to my left)

"It's almost too much! I could almost just collapse!" (Highly attractive female to my right)

"My emotions are fried. This is the peak of my life." (My companion, Mr. Linfoot)

"I'm jumping in front of a bus once we're out of here. I want to die happy!" (Chirpy middle-aged man behind me)

22:30: Encore break. Exhausted, in the best way possible. I normally stay quiet in these situations, but here I find myself clapping uncontrollably like a retarded seal. Kind of awkward when you're trying to note things down on your phone. Anyway, the new songs... They're massive, they're dark, and they could barely be further removed from restrained bliss of Valtari. One of them even became vaguely danceable towards the end. It sounds wrong, but they were all incredible.


23:02: We're done. I'm not entirely sure what just happened. "Popplagið..." there are no words. Astonishing? Not good enough. Flabbergasting. Fucking weak. Life can only go downhill from here. I feel like I'm in a bubble. I can't think. My mind is blown, literally, and by the looks of it I'm not the only one feeling this sensation. This is surreal. No one can walk properly. Everyone's sort of gravitating half-heartedly towards the exit like hypnotised zombies. What just happened?

23:50: Still concussed. Still can't walk properly. Still whimpering and shouting "FUCK" at random intervals. Still completely incapable of discussing what we've witnessed, and not just because we can't pronounce most of the song titles. We were going to go out and get plastered at this point, but it doesn't feel right. We got to the doors of a few bars, but the incessant thudding from inside instantly reminded us that all other music is inherently inferior. They're full of people who're still inhabiting Earth. We have drinks at our hotel, so we're going back there instead, to attempt to come to terms with it all, if nothing else. I just got a text from a friend asking what the Barca-Real score was. I've no idea, and I couldn't give two shits.

03/03/2013, 15:00: I'm on the train home. We didn't drink much in the end, although the shell shock has me feeling massively hungover nonetheless. I still can't really comprehend what happened last night, but we have at least managed to discuss some of the finer points. Is Jonsi really human? Seriously, how is it possible to stretch one's voice to such extremes on such a consistent basis, without screwing up a single note? He must have held that ludicrous ethereal cry at the end of "Svefn-g-englar" for a good 40 seconds. It's absolutely staggering. Also, how on Earth did tickets only cost £26? A lower-end arena price for a genuinely flawless performance from a group of such international calibre, with an enormous production and an out-of-body experience to boot. It makes no feasible sense, but I'm not complaining!

So yeah, decent gig.



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