On their last effort ‘Valtari’, Sigur Rós stripped back their familiar epic sound to a new level of sparseness and minimalism. Tender and beautiful, it however omitted the pounding drums and massive build-up’s that gave their previous records such fanfare. In concert I expected a similar approach but what followed was a broad selection of their back catalogue that slotted together like a jigsaw and even included three impressive new numbers.
Entering to a dark, misty stage, draped in fishing nets, and with William Basinski’s ‘Dip 1.1’ echoing in the background, it looked like the band had stumbled upon heaven. New track ‘Yfirborð’ opened, a slow burner that built from a distance chant into the bands full on wall of noise. On second track ‘Í Gær’ a sudden burst of distortion caused the netting to fall dramatically, revealing the band and giving us our first taste of Sigur Rós AKA Pink Floyd. Other early set highlights included the brass heavy, but slightly industrial new track ‘Brennisteinn’ and the ever reliable ‘Vaka’ from the ‘Untitled’ album. Surprisingly ‘Hoppípolla’, the groups only real ‘hit’, was somewhat subdued tonight and felt like the set’s weakest link. Lesser known tracks however, like 2008’s ‘Festival’, faired much better, reminding you of the richness of the band’s treasure chest of a career. Last of the new tracks, ‘Kveikur’, is worth a mention, again hard sounding with an intense beat that reminded me of Portishead’s ‘Machine Gun’. It was almost evil sounding, the complete opposite of ‘Valtari’, and hinted at exciting times ahead. The encore was faultless, starting with Takk’s mesmerising ‘Glósóli’ and was followed by the classic and elegantly delivered ‘Svefn-g-englar’ from the ‘Ágætis byrjun’ album. They ended with ‘Popplagið’ and left an estastic crowd literally gasping for more, some even whooping. Very few bands can call themselves unique these days but Sigur Rós are simply in a world of their own.