Sigur Rós preview new songs at Hammersmith Apollo
Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós close their three-day London residency at Hammersmith Apollo with a 15-song set divided into two acts. The series of shows is part of an unusual pre-release world tour: the trio are in fact testing new material that will feature on their eagerly anticipated eighth album. The West London venue – in an all-seat setup – is packed by the time Jónsi Birgisson, Georg Hólm and Orri Páll Dýrason enter the stage. It’s a completely different version of the iconic Nordic group who are presenting themselves in a rare stripped-down format: known for their numerous live lineups – extra touring members, string and brass sections – the band get back to basics, delivering their outlandish soundscapes between the three of them.
The concert begins with Á, one of the newer songs, which reminds of their () era (think of Njósnavélin‘s pace and atmosphere); similarly, during that period, Sigur Rós were previewing the soon-to-be-recorded pieces of their forthcoming release. The idea of going as intimate as possible is admirable, it has to be said though that most of the tracks feature pre-recorded sounds and instruments, diluting the “it’s the three of us” effect.
Just like on the albums, Sigur Rós take their public to another world where their borderline-comprehensible lyrics and eight-plus-minute songs never bore, not for a second. The first part of the set is fantastic and every moment is a highlight: Ekki Múkk, Glósóli, E-Bow, Dauðalagið, Fljótavík and then two more new tracks, Niður and Varða. It’s clear these aren’t early tests but nearly finalised compositions; the latter in particular stands out as a mellow, melancholic masterpiece.
Birgisson hypnotises with his falsetto on Sæglópur and the band explodes with the powerful Ný Batterí, Festival, Kveikur and their trademark grand finale Popplagið, setting the audience on fire. But the higher peak in this mountain range of emotions is Vaka, the groundbreaking opener of (). Tonight we’ve heard four little gems from Sigur Rós’ upcoming album and if expectations were already high, now we are sure something great is about to be released.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information and future events visit the Sigur Rós website here.
Watch the live performance of Niður at Walt Disney Concert Hall here: