Last night Jónsi, lead singer of Sigur Ros, kicked off his debut solo tour at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on the same day his debut solo record, Go, was released. The stars were seemingly aligned for a pretty amazing spectacle and that is exactly what burst from the elaborately adorned stage.
The show ranged from Jónsi’s (more or less) solo opening number on acoustic guitar through the finale of Grow Till Tall which extends its studio counterpart into a massive, Sigur Ros-like epic that was, without a doubt, the perfect ending to what was a memorable gig. And everything in between? Just as spectacular.
Every song from Go was played but what really pleasantly surprised me was the number of new/unreleased songs Jónsi performed (six in total). I’m not sure if there is an EP in the works or another album but I was blown away by the quality of these new songs. The one titled on the setlist as New Piano Song ended up being one of my favourite songs on the night. It featured Jónsi playing piano and drummer þorvaldur þorvaldsson on a secondary drum kit that seemed to consist of pots and pans.
The show started off pretty slowly as Jónsi has clearly constructed his set to build up from quieter, slower songs (Hengilás, for example) to the more rambunctious and playful songs that featured heavily later on (Go Do, Boy Lilikoi, Animal Arithmetic). In fact, I’d be surprised if the setlist changed much at all over the course of the tour; great care was taken to bring each song to life not only musically but also on the multiple screens and props that made the stage reminiscent of play about the triumphant spirit of nature. Or something.
Like some Sigur Ros visuals, many of the projections (of wolves, owls, rain, moons, trees blowing in the wind) were synced beautifully with the music and, in some instances, brought deeper meaning to the lyrics. One curtain dropped early in the set revealing a massive constructed background that resembled broken windows being overtaken by trees while behind that another screen continued to feature animations. All in all it was very impressive. And there were costumes!
But ultimately we were there for the music and it did not disappoint either. As I mentioned above, Grow Till Tall was quite different from its studio version and a number of the other songs from the record were also a bit more lively on stage. This was no doubt aided by some pretty insane drumming and Jónsi’s always breathtaking voice which is something best experienced in a big room with wonderful acoustics.
And while I was impressed by Jónsi’s vocal performances on some of the slower pieces and impressed by the generous inclusion of six new songs and impressed by the musicianship and impressed by the stage setup, lights and visuals, it was probably the joyful renditions of Go Do, Boy Lilikoi, and Animal Arithmetic that truly blew me away. Three of the finest pop songs of the year all on one record and even better live. Just an unbelievable show.
Stars In Still Water
New piano song
Jonsi new guitar song
Grow Till Tall
I’ve put some photos up on Flickr. And if you don’t believe me that the show was amazing, The Georgia Straight, Spin, The Backstage Rider, and Guttersnipe were also pretty impressed. There’s also a helpful collection of photos and reviews on Jonsi’s site.