Sigur Rós
Sigur Rós | Credit: Dave Simpson/Getty Images

Sigur Rós Review – A Calming Serenity Comes to Fortitude Valley

Fortitude Valley is the loudest, busiest and most rambunctious part of Brisbane. Any given evening – even a Tuesday – it’s bustling with crowds, pouring out of the various bars and venues and revelling in the nightlife. Imagine the shock and surprise, then, when within the halls of the Fortitude Music Hall, the Valley feels like the quietest place on earth. There’s an unshakeable stillness, a calming serenity, a glowing light amid the pitch darkness. Very few acts could ever instil such a reverent, stunned reaction from their audience – but, then again, very few acts have ever been quite like Sigur Rós.

Tonight is the first night of the Icelandic band’s first Australian tour in five years. As such, with no new album to promote, the tour is ostensibly both a reintroduction and the beginning of a new chapter in the band’s career. Not that the former was necessarily needed, mind you – there are several points throughout the two sets, separated by an interval, that a cheer of recognition goes up purely from a few piano notes or a bowed guitar line.

Very few acts have ever been quite like Sigur Rós


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Sigur Rós’ untitled third album – aka ( ) – celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and tonight’s set includes a half-dozen songs lifted from it. Be it the shimmering, stinging ‘Unitled #6 – E-Bow’ or the slow-burn inferno of ‘Untitled #7 – Dauðalagið’, these remarkable compositions not only hold the same resonance and power as they did upon their initial release, but they maintain an awe-inspiring presence within the band’s live shows.

It’s worth noting the line-up shuffle that has taken place since Sigur Rós were last out on the road. Drummer Orri Páll Dýrason has exited the fold, but multi-instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson is back after nine years – and the latter certainly makes up for the years away from the group with an arresting performance.

Often serving as the anchor of the songs performed, Sveinsson is the perfect right-hand man for bandleader Jónsi as he guides the ethereal vocals through resplendent piano passages and reverberating guitars. Throw in mainstay bassist Georg Holm and touring drummer/keyboardist Ólafur Ólafsson, and this iteration of the band makes a strong case for being its tightest, strongest ensemble yet.

Striking animations and artworks accompany each song

Sigur Rós
Sigur Rós at Spark Arena, Auckland | Credit: Dave Simpson/Getty Images

After years of touring with orchestral players and brass sections, watching the band operate in a stripped-back formation is a sight to see. That’s meant quite literally, too, given the visually-arresting staging: the spiralling lightbulbs, the LCD screen showcasing striking animations and artworks accompanying each song, and the tangled ropes across the stage, which are untangled in the second set.

When it comes to the band itself, too, you’re seeing four musicians that move seamlessly from workstation to workstation – keyboards, pianos, synthesisers, glockenspiels, guitars and even the occasional trombone are cycled in and out of the set, meaning the band can execute their full maximalist sound while also keeping the personnel down to the bare essentials.

The second set comes charging home with a stunning final act: ‘Festival’, ‘Kveikur’ and the grand closer ‘Untitled #8 – Popplagið’ from the aforementioned ( ). A showcase of the band at their brightest and most triumphant contrasted with the band at their darkest and most apocalyptic, this breathless run of songs feels all-encompassing in so many ways. It’s the closest we get to any greater interaction from the band with the audience, too, as Jónsi prowls from stage left to stage right and howls above the steady crescendo his bandmates are building.

It may have been five years since they were here, but if you’ve ever loved this band for even a moment in your life it will all come flooding back to you once they’re leaping forth again into the great unknown in front of you. Hell, even if you came in tonight completely blind with no context whatsoever, you will be leaving a devotee. Such is the power of Sigur Rós – then, now and forever.

Further Reading

Sigur Rós Announce 2022 Australia And New Zealand Tour

Love Letter to a Record: Vancouver Sleep Clinic on Sigur Rós’ ‘Takk…’

Hear Robyn & Sigur Ros’ Jónsi Link Up For New Song ‘Salt Licorice’

Sigur Ros Tour Dates

  • Wednesday, 10th August – Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane
  • Friday, 12th August – Aware Super Theatre, Sydney
  • Saturday, 13th August – Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne

Tickets on sale now. for more info.

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