Sigur Rós Show Review

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Venue: 1stBank Center 

Location: Broomfield, Colorado

Date: 04/06/13

Inebriation Level: Soberish

When my friend Wes first introduced me to Sigur Rós back in college, I thought I was the coolest guy ever for jamming to some crazy dudes that spoke Icelandic. Then I went to a near sold-out show at the 1stBank Center in the ‘burbs last Saturday and realized I’m not very cool. I have this realization quite a bit.

I’d been wanting to catch the band for years after hearing their shows were like nothing else out there. Considering their music is so uniquely awesome, it was an easy buy when the tickets went on sale about five months ago. And to think teachers used to tell me I procrastinate.

As usual, I dragged the special lady along with me so I wouldn’t look like a creepy loner. We arrived at the venue a wee bit late, so I sadly had to forego my pre-concert ritual of drinking in the car. We finally sat down after just missing the great Oneohtrix Point Never. Notice I say sat down, as this was the first concert where I stayed seated the whole time. Listen kids, when you get to be an old ass 26-year-old such as myself, you appreciate being able to take a load off once in a while.

The show began with the entire stage set off by a soft screen that allowed the lights to create wild shadows and dual projected images. The opening new song “Yfirborð” was quiet and somber, then the real partay came with the second track, “Ný Batterí” from the album Agætis Byrjun. As the song reached its climax with an onslaught of floor toms and cymbals, the soft screen dropped down, revealing the now three core band members and a crew of eight musicians behind them.

Next came the amazing “Vaka,” the opening track from the ( ) album. Usually I’m hoping for the loudest jams possible, but the quieter track displayed how amazing and unique lead singer Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson’s voice really is. I also wasn’t aware that he always pulls a badass Jimmy Page move by playing his Les Paul with a bow. Not quite as badass as Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel playing his guitar with an entire violin, but pretty close.

The setlist continued with a heavy emphasis on the albums ( ) and Takk… being their most well-known and more rock oriented albums. For being an ambient and atmospheric group, Sigur Rós really could pack some punch, with an impressively dynamic show. Songs like “E-Bow” and “Olsen Olsen ” would sneak in quietly with a moody ambience, but would then build into a loud eruption of epic rocking proportions.

The visuals added quite a bit of depth to the show, as the band pulled out all the stops. The projection screen displayed everything from a moving mountain to sparkly stars, and I must say, had the ol’ mind tripping out quite a bit. Small touches like having lights flickering on the screen interacting with lights on the stage brought an interactive, 3D effect to the show. The entire stage was covered in light bulbs surrounding the musicians, adding to the mood for quieter parts and also helping to bring down the house for the louder portions.

Besides Jónsi being otherworldly, their drummer was one of the most impressive musicians I’ve ever seen live. There’s no way I’d ever be able to pronounce his name, but Orri Páll Dýrason clearly could rock a Rush song just as easily as rocking a song by The Who. Or Sigur Rós, since that’s the band he plays in. The other musicians filled a string section and a horn section, all of whom joined Jónsi for the harmonious and beautiful “Varúð,” the only track from last year’s Valtari. Two other musicians ran around the stage playing piano, chimes, xylophones, organ, and guitar. That’s what we call multitasking.

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The only interaction with the crowd came when Jónsi led the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to bass player George Hólm, who I’m sure thought that beat waiters singing to him at Applebee’s. Other than that, the concert was all about the music, the visuals, and the experience. The wild visuals weaved perfectly with the complex and beautiful soundscapes, creating a world unique to Sigur Rós.

The highlight of the show was of course the encore, which included the melodic “Glósóli” from Takk… and then led into the closer of the show and the ( ) album, “Popplagið,” one of the most emotional songs of their catalog. The song stretched to almost 15 minutes, building from a never-before-heard sheer silence in an arena, to a sonic explosion, complete with a light show that surely gave someone a seizure.

Overall, the Sigur Rós concert was more than just a band playing some tuneskies, it was an experience. They were able to build off of the lush soundscapes created on the albums and add more dynamics, captivating visuals, and jaw-dropping musicianship. Sure you can’t understand a damn thing they’re saying, but it’s not a coffeshop singer/songwriter we’re talking about. It’s about having the music move you to places you’ve never gone. See, I’m getting all poetic and stuff, never gone there before.

5/5: Legendary

5 Records

Set List:

Yfirborð
Ný Batterí 
Vaka 
Hrafntinna
Sæglópur
Fljótavík
E-bow
Varúð 
Hoppípolla 
Með Blóðnasir
Olsen Olsen
Kveikur
Festival
Brennisteinn

Encore
Glósóli 
Popplagið

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3 Comments

  1. Barbra Brady

     /  April 10, 2013

    Thanks for the set-up to my seeing them live next week in Oakland–long-time listener, first time live.

    Reply
    • Glad I could prep you for the show, enjoy!

      Reply
      • I already am, days out….anticipation is always such a delish, especially with at-long-last Sigur Ros. I’m reeling like a teenager, and I’m far, far, far afield from that field!

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