Poliça and Sigur Rós at the Roundhouse
The iTunes Festival brings together the world’s best artists in an intimate venue; it gives people who have missed out on tickets to sold-out shows the chance to see their favourite bands live. But sometimes it doesn’t work, and at times when the support band is playing you can feel the sterile atmosphere. Yesterday at the Roundhouse even the support band didn’t want to be there.
Poliça are an American synth-pop band from Minneapolis, about to release their second album, Shulamith. Singer Channy Leaneagh has a unique and soulful voice, which she manipulated using auto-tune through the synth machine. Their set featured many songs off their debut album, Give You the Ghost. A highlight was Dark Star when two drummers played in unison while a chorus of trumpets played over the synth, and Leaneagh, in a metallic silver dress, appeared happier than at any other point in the set.
Their last song Vegas evoked something in Leaneagh as she sang “You’ve been mean to me”. So emotional was her performance that before the drummers and bassist had finished, she said “Thank you” over the microphone and left the stage while they continued to play.
Sigur Rós, the main act, were awe-inspiring as they came out to perform. A darkened room awaited them, lights flashed behind the stage and Jonsi Birgisson’s voice filled the Roundhouse at the beginning of Yfirborð as many musicians were slowly revealed: violinists, trumpeters, drummers and Birgisson playing guitar with a string.
A highlight of the set was Festival, which started off slowly with Birgisson taking centre stage, standing in front of a projection screen of stars and space, his ethereal voice echoing around the venue. The audience was silent, amazed. Birgisson reached a point where he held an “oooh” for one full minute, the crowd shouting “Jónsi” in support, clapping and roaring once he had finished. Their most well-known song, Hoppípolla, saw the crowd go wild, clapping and cheering, some even singing along in Icelandic. Birgisson, pleased, lifted his arms up, his hands grabbing at the air, encouraging more and more to clap.
Sigur Rós were rigid like Polica, but they made it work. The use of lights, imagery, silence and Birgisson’s angelic wail gave the performance a cinematic edge that made the concert breathtaking to watch.
Photos: Helen Parish