25.9.2014 Aschaffenburg GER
Aschaffenburg’s Colos-Saal offers ideal conditions for pretty much any concert with local sound- and light technicians that really know their stuff. When this comes coupled with an interested audience and a band that knows how to make use of the place, a good evening is guaranteed. With Árstíðir it became clear from the first notes that the concert would be beautiful. They offered us new songs and familiar ones, stories, laughter and a few tears, at least for those of us who allowed themselves to get caught up in the emotional rollercoaster the band provided us with. Along with many others in the audience I got lost in the music that night, blinking as if I’d woken up from a dream when it was over.
Due to the band being stuck in a traffic jam, the concert started a little later than it was supposed to, but nobody seemed to mind waiting. The venue was nicely filled and people were busy chatting. Soon the lights went down and Árstíðir walked on stage. They started the evening with a few of their older songs, before getting to those from their album in the making. At first the band still seemed a little bit distracted, but by the third song all of that was gone and the guys were very much present in the moment.
The concert started on familiar territory with “Heiðin” and “You just have to know of me”, two songs from Árstíðir’s first album. With the beautiful intro to “You just have to know of me” I was already caught up in the music and smiling. They moved forward into the second album with “Orð að eigin vali” and one of my all time favorites, “Days & Nights”. The sound at the venue was incredibly good and everyone else in the audience looked as if they were enjoying the music just as much as I did. Next we learned that their new album did not get ready in time for the tour, but they’d play a few new songs for us anyway. The first one of those was “Silfurskin”, starting with a softly calling piano melody and a response from guitar and violin respectively. The song sounds sad, the melody being full of melancholia. Since I have no idea what the Icelandic lyrics mean I can only imagine. The beautiful vocals shared by Gunnar, Daníel and Ragnar brought tears to my eyes for the first time that night.
The first set brought us more songs from the first two albums, some, as announced, so old that the band only existed as a trio when they were written. Violinist Karl joked that “Ages” was from a time before some members of the audience were born. Overall, the band was in a good mood, but rather than explaining much about the songs, they let the music speak for itself. The set ended with an absolutely stunning rendition of “Shades”, where especially Guillaume on cello outdid himself, leaving the room in sudden silence before the applause set in. During the break, excited chatter could be heard and happy faces seen.
Soon, the band was back on stage for their second set. It contained almost exclusively songs from the upcoming album and was quite an emotional rollercoaster. The first song was their only instrumental “Ró” – as opposed to the version released as part of the Toppstöðin sessions, Karl did not play the violin, but joined Ragnar on the piano, leaving more room for the cello. It worked well. “Someone who cares” had me close to tears again, while “The Cannon” made me laugh because of the funny story that comes with it: After firing a rifle for the first time and being almost knocked out by the ricochet, the only thing a self-respecting musician can do is write a love song about it.
While some of the new songs had already been played before, “You again” was another brand new one. It was used for a video with artist Kitty Von-Sometime, that has just been released. This song and the next one, “Shine” made me hold me breath. I was so in awe, I simply forgot about breathing regularly until both songs were over. “Shine” has been a favorite from the moment I first heard it last year, still somewhat rough then. It has evolved into a true masterpiece since. Before the last song Daníel introduced the band. For some reason they rarely do this, but it was a nice touch. “Nú gleymist ég” ended the second set after which I felt emotionally drained, but still wanted to hear more. Everyone else in the room seemed to feel the same way and cheered loudly.
The guys came back out for “Ljoð í sand”, immediately putting the audience under their spell again. People were watching in awe, hanging on to their every word. This song always gets people. “Kill us” followed and made the perfect last song, first creating, then releasing tension with a bang. The last sounds still seemed to be hanging in the air when they walked off stage again and the audience was yelling for another encore. Everyone in the room looked happy. One last time they came back and walked directly into the room to sing “Because” without instruments or microphones among the audience. The rendition was beautiful, ending the concert on a high note. This was exactly how a concert should be. I personally can’t wait for the next one.
Text & photos: Stefanie Oepen