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Foreign Correspondent: Sigur Ros – The Brixton Academy

Written by Alex Langlands on March 13, 2013

A cool foggy evening in London could not have been a more perfect setting for the third and final sold-out concert for Iceland’s musical pride, Sigur Ros. Trailing from the release of their critically acclaimed album, Valtari, it was clear from the outset that the evening’s events would be ones to cherish for some time. Within a matter of minutes the Brixton Academy filled up, as hipsters and fans alike descended from all corners of London and beyond to catch a glimpse of one of the most respected live bands touring today.

As the aroma of excitement filled the famous venue, support act Blanck Mass took the stage; however, the lingering sense of excitement quickly changed into boredom as an aural clusterfuck ensued. In what can only be described as a hybrid of samples from the Amazonian Rainforest, GarageBand, and the Apollo 13 mixed with what I’m assuming would be the result of an individual head butting a midi pad repeatedly, it wasn’t long before the crowd lost interest. It was a shame as well, as Blanck Mass’ studio tracks are some of the best electronic sounds England has exported in the past few months. I’m sure to the right ear, the aforementioned sounds may be described as sensational; however, it was clear that none of those ears were present.

Masked behind a set of translucent projector screens, the Icelandic outfit left the crowd spellbound as they opened into their latest unreleased track Yfirborð, and it quickly became evident that their live performance knew no bounds. Sourcing material from six of their studio albums, the trio celebrated their 19-year history showcasing tracks from Ágætis byrjun to last year’s Valtari.

Bringing the likes of Fljótavík, E-Bow and Sæglópur to life, the performance began to peak as the opening piano sequence of Hoppípolla radiated throughout the Academy’s main room. As the piece picked up dynamically, it brought the spirits of punters with it as the crowd entered a unique sense of bliss. Instead of the herbs, euphoria was the drug of choice that evening.

This state of ecstasy was solidly maintained for several songs as the ambient sounds of Festival begun. Yet it wasn’t until the unparalleled power of Georg Hólms’ bass boomed through the speakers that this emotion was doubled. The coordination of music and visual displays only acted in favour of the performance, enhancing the spectacle that proceeded to unfold.

It must be noted, however, as obvious as it is, that the sensation that is Sigur Ros is not purely conveyed through the musical ability of their frontman Jonsi. The array of musical abilities displayed from the three members to the eleven-piece band accumulated to create something truly special. Describing it as a vivid musical showcase of breathtaking proportions does not do it justice. It’s no secret that I adore Sigur Ros; however, their performance was so powerful that even a critic would have been converted.

To be short, it comes down to the nature of the performance. If, and I emphasise if, a mistake was made that evening, it went unnoticed. Forged into the performance, making it all the more unique, the power and ability of Sigur Ros merged into an unforgettable experience. It was an experience that saw the spectator reach the aforementioned sense of nirvana, which is nearly impossible to recreate outside of said venue. Maybe it’s music, or maybe it was the setting; however, I believe that a solid majority of witnesses to the spectacle that unfolded before them would attribute it to the power of Sigur Ros, the most unique band on the planet.

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