Sigur Rós at Royal Hospital Kilmainham – Review
Sigur Rós are the band you know, and yet you do not think you do. Such is the case that if you announce you are seeing them live, it is likely you will be met with puzzled faces and scratching of heads. That is until you sample some of their work that spans seven albums to your awaited audience, and slowly watch the recognition from adverts, wildlife documentaries, and that scene in the rain from the cheesy romcom you watched all come to the fore to a resounding admission that yes, they really did know the band all along.
If you scooped up a random sample of the crowd to see this Icelenadic trio at Dublin’s Royal Hospital Kilmainham, you would be instantly reminded of the iconic Forrest Gump quote as you simply would not know what you’re going to get. People with great music taste of course, but with massive diversity among them that resulted in such a laid back atmosphere that ranged from swaying bodies entranced in a light show to those completely sprawled out on the grass, eyes closed and taking in this unique experience through a live act that truly stands miles apart from anything else you will ever see.
They begin their set by performing the opening track from the back of the stage, behind a light screen of sorts which posed the question of whether the performance would mimic a David Guetta style stance of DJ decks while the crowd dances along. However, the trio soon emerged to put any such doubts to rest. ‘Starálfur’ is encased in a maze of blue lights, while ‘Sæglópur’ (Icelandic for lost at sea) boasts a visual splendor of twinkling lights that are most effective swirling in a downward spiral across the screen rather than looking directly at the stage itself. It’s definitely dreamlike, and with the guitar and drum collisions bringing the twinkling pixels together to form artistic outlines of the instruments and band members on stage, it is the kind of display that you would slip away into a trance and be completely at ease with doing so. Jónsi Birgisson’s renowned skill of playing guitar with a cello bow adds to this hypnotic appeal, along with his spine tingling falsetto that both soothes and awes in its wake.
‘Glósóli’ is beautiful in its delivery, with the glockenspiel being the star attraction as the song builds, and while the red light graphics of ‘Vaka’ create another slow scene of moving colours to get lost in, ‘Ný Batterí’ is much darker, bringing out harsher and more threatening elements to their ethereal sound.
The band are short and brief with crowd interaction, only pausing to give their commiserations towards the loss to France (the wounds are still healing), but nonetheless still a nice touch. They continue with ‘Festival’ which is met with resounding appreciation as Birgisson holds a note that carries across the grounds for so long that you could make a cup of tea and come back with biscuits and he would still be going.
‘Popplagið’ closes their set with an explosion of colour through lights and screens on stage, and although beautiful to watch they are unfortunate in that it would be even better portrayed with darker surroundings as opposed to the fading 10.15pm Dublin skies. The omission of ‘Hoppípolla’ was surprising, though perhaps they feel that the ever popular most recognisable 2005 track has had its time.
By all accounts this is a band you would listen to through earphones while winding down and drifting off to sleep, however by pairing their sound with an effective visual partnership, they have created their own alternative live setting and atmosphere for fans to not only visit, but to take a piece of it home with them as they leave.