SIGUR RÓS

Prog - - Limelight - ALEX LYN­HAM

There are few bands as au­rally mes­meris­ing as veteran Ice­landic post-rock­ers Sigur Rós, and with their new­est light show and stage set, there are now few bands with such en­gross­ing vi­su­als. Skele­tal py­lons im­ply false per­spec­tive or a van­ish­ing point be­hind the stage, and a screen par­ti­tions it in two, with pro­jec­tions across it as the band play ei­ther in front or be­hind it.

Play­ing the sec­ond night of a three­night res­i­dency, the band are per­form­ing to what are for them in­ti­mate crowds. Al­though they’ve been a three-piece since the de­par­ture of key­boardist Kjar­tan Sveins­son in 2013, they’ve usu­ally toured with an ex­panded line-up. How­ever, for these shows the band are on their own, and the sparse set up makes for a com­pletely dif­fer­ent feel.

Fa­mous for singing in an imag­ined di­alect of Ice­landic, dubbed ‘Hopelandic’, on some tracks, as well as for play­ing the gui­tar us­ing a cello bow, their front­man Jónsi Bir­gis­son leads the band through a set that takes in not only their more com­mer­cial ma­te­rial like Fes­ti­val and Glósóli, but also sin­is­ter fare like the ti­tle track from Kveikur, ar­guably the dark­est and bravest record in their discog­ra­phy.

Of the new tracks, lat­est sin­gle Óveður is the eas­i­est to get a handle on, though it’s a more an­gu­lar, elec­tronic tune

that sug­gests an even more dra­matic stylis­tic de­par­ture awaits on the band’s up­com­ing al­bum. By con­trast, Niður and Varða sug­gest a re­turn to the stripped­back ver­sion of the band at their mid2000s com­mer­cial peak.

though the band are rel­a­tively se­date on stage, there are mo­ments of drama – Jónsi hurls his cello bow away dur­ing one cli­max, and his face con­torts on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions as he holds ac­ro­bat­i­cally high falsetto notes.

the set peaks as they crash into the cli­max of Pop­plagið, also known as un­ti­tled 8. Jónsi flings him­self across the stage and smashes the head­stock of his up­turned gui­tar against the floor, pro­vok­ing howls of feed­back.

to some con­ster­na­tion from a seated au­di­ence, he moves to the front of the stage and kicks sev­eral lights off the edge. He then knocks over both gui­tar cabs be­hind him, with a crash. It’s a fit­tingly dra­matic end to a squalling set that pro­vokes a stand­ing ova­tion from the crowd.

LUCTANT ROCK R: ARJEN CASSEN. TONIGHT’S SPEC­TA­CLE: MORE LIKE A MU­SI­CAL THAN A GIG. MIKE MILLS, OF AUSSIE BAND

TOEHIDER. THE “NAT­U­RALLY EBUL­LIENT”

DAMIAN WIL­SON.

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