Bank of America Pavilion, Boston MA
Friday, September 19, 2008
A late summer evening. No better time for an outdoor show, even if the temperature was below the averages for this time of year. The wonderfully located Bank of America Pavilion has sight lines of the ocean and the tall buildings of Boston, a picture perfect location. Tonight, Icelandic band Sigur Ros was taking the stage to a sell out crowd. As I waited outside for my friend I watched more than 10 people come to the window for a ticket, only it be told it was sold out.
Right at 7:30 Parachutes came on stage. I am not familiar with them, or their music going in but have read things like "They are English speaking Sigur Ros" or what have you. During their 35 minute set the eight members of the band rotated between various instruments. The audience was pretty respectful and listened quietly and patiently as some songs would deep in to a single instrument or a single voice. Although the music was soothing to me personally, as great as it sounded it never really went anywhere. I sort of waited for a more up tempo song. If they come around again to a smaller venue they would be worth checking out.
The stage was quickly turned over for Sigur Ros and before you knew it the lights went down and the audience scrambled to their seats. Sigur Rós consists of jón þor (jónsi) birgisson (vocals, guitars), kjartan (kjarri) sveinsson (keyboards), orri páll dýrason (drums) and georg (goggi) holm (bass). The stage layout just made room for the band with vocal microphones scattered around the stage. Facing the stage Kjarii was to the left, Jonsi in the middle, Goggi on the right and Orri way over to the right.
The band opened with Svefn-g-englar from the ágætis byrjun record. The keyboard "bo-boo's" echoed across the venue as Jonsi slowly worked the bow across his guitar. The song set the tone and as the song nears completion Jonsi hits these notes that are off the chart. He really needs to get up there and at the end Jonsi kept on going "í tjúú" followed by "excuse me" a few times. You could tell he was frustrated that he was off key or off pitch, but really there was no waiver to these ears. Finally he sang a long lasting "í tjúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúú. that he seemed to hold for over 40 seconds. The audience roared approval.
The set was similar to other nights on the tour so far (this was the third show of the tour) and in reading the bands message board fans were sort of mixed with regard to the current live version of Sigur Ros. For those not familiar with the band, they have toured with a string section for the last few tours, and a brass section more recently. The result, as you'd imagine is a very full sound. When it was mentioned they would not be touring some fans found that, as expected, there was something missing. To this reviewer, it was a chance to see Sigur Ros perhaps come out of a shell expand musically as a quartet.
At times you could hear a pin drop at the show. This is sort of the norm for a Sigur Ros show. The audience sits and applauds at the end of each song allowing the band full control. There were moments as well, at a show as big as this, where a few $10 domestic beers got the better of the audience and they just *had* to yell during the quiet parts.
The set list progressed along, hitting both new and old tracks Ný batterí still can blow my hair back with the pounding drums and the one two punch of hoppípolla / með blóðnasir was also a bright spot, during the later, Jonsi invited the audience to sing along.
Then my least favorite moment of the night came, and it wasn't even the bands fault, when during Viðrar vel til loftárása a person behind me just "had to go there". Viðrar has a section where the band just stops playing and stands still. Jonsi holds the bow pointing over his head. On past tours fans actually would talk smack to other cities daring them to "be as quiet as us during viðrar vel til loftárása!", and it worked. The last time I saw them I had 40 seconds. It might not sound like a lot as you sit reading, but 40 seconds, at a rock show can be a lifetime. Well on this night we lasted about 3 seconds. Most people around me seemed to "know" what happens..but then in started one here..one over there..another one..until finally in a booming voice 2 rows behind me comes the dreaded "ROCK ON!" My toes curled up in my shoes. Its being nit picky I know, but still..why are we so uncomfortable with silence?
The main set drew to a close with a top 3 favorite live song by any band ever track hafsól. On this track Goggi hits his bass strings with a drum stick, causing a bounce and punch sound. It is always a moment for me when this track happens..and for the first time in the set I thought "strings would be nice on this track" but lets see what they do. They did it. They kept the momentum and the track still hit with quite a punch. The main set wrapped up with the lead off single from the new record Gobbledigook. A few members from parachutes came out and performed on drums behind Jonsi. The audience was on their feet and clapping along per the request of the band (this was new..we were standing at a Sigur Ros show..for the second time now??). As the song concluded the band quickly rushed off the stage.
We remained standing as the band returned and everyone barring Orri came out to center stage. Jonsi, after a few adjustments, said the next song was going to be done for only the second time and he apologized in advance for it "maybe sounding like shit". It was Illgresi, and the audience stood in stunned silence as they performed a beautiful version.
Finally, the live show closer to end all live show closers Popplagið begins. Even the studio version of this song is unreal and live it is even better. We'd miss the strings again in this track but the band really laid in to this. As the song grows in ferocity the audience was in a frenzy, and as Jonsi begins his high chorus the lights get doing and the volume seems to go up 100 fold. As the song was nearing completion Jonsi was doing some rock guitar "lunges" hanging over the edge of the stage. With one massive note the band slams the song down and the audience gives its all. (as a side note..sitting during this song is always fun..because it builds and builds and when it ends you shoot out of your seat in a total moment of elation)
The band left the stage and returned with Parachutes for one big curtain call and the roar heard brought smiles to all their faces.
The set list:
03. Ny Batteri
05. Við Spilum Endalaust
07. Með Blóðnasir (w/audience singing)
08. Svo Hljótt
10. Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása
11. Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur
Check out the bands official
site. The band is on tour
for the rest of the year, US and overseas. Here what they sound like even more by checking out the bands myspace
Labels: live review