All photos courtesy Joe Stadele Photography. All rights reserved.
Sigur Rós has made a career of defining (and redefining) post-modern rock by crafting ethereal dreamscapes which reach into their audiences’ very soul – with next to no English in their lyrical repertoire*. Though the band hasn’t released a new album since 2013’s monstrous Kveiker, Sigur Rós is in the midst of a year long tour; performing as a three-piece in some of the smallest venues they have visited since 2002’s ( ). While their is no denying the presence of the expanded strings and brass of previous touring line-ups, the three-piece succeeded in matching the visceral expansiveness of their catalog’s grandeur at their stop in Minneapolis.
Georg, Orri and Jónsi demonstrated their versatility at the sold out Orpheum Theatre. Georg held down the low-end, while contributing on the acoustic guitar and glockenspiel. Orri simultaneously displayed his mastery on percussion and keys. In addition to his trademark guitar and bow, Jónsi also contributed on keys, all while weaving his Hopelandic* falsetto around and through the music.
The show was broken into two sets. The first was a slow-brooding journey inward. The second, an expansive futuristic celebration. Both sets took advantage of layered LED scrim walls and Tron-like lighting, which projected imagery of Iceland’s foreign landscapes, volcanic eruptions, nebulas and beyond. An unnerving organ drone welcomed guests as the house went dark. Without pause in sound, the drones transformed into a thunderstorm as Orri sat down at the drum kit; hitting the kick drum like a pulse with cymbal splashes. As Jónsi placed his bow to his guitar strings, the band moved into the hypnotic slow-burn of “Á”. As Jónsi took a seat on the floor and George and Orri performed side-by-side, early applause erupted as they set into the opening keys of “Samskeyti”. The set highlighted by the beautifully pulsing “Glósóli.”
For the second set, Sigur Rós took a page out of the Tron playbook, revealing themselves behind the LED scrim wall with blue vertical and horizontal lights dashing the stage. The futuristic look was matched by the machine drone of their latest single, “Óveður.” The second set was marked by fan favorites “Starálfur” and “Vaka.” The building journey of “Festival” exploded into pure celebration. “Kviekur” was a brooding monster unleashed. SR left everything on stage as Jónsi by knocked over his mic stand (twice) during “Popplagið,” shredding to the front row; then pushing his guitar and bow to the floor and proceeded to overturn his amp. A grand exit, but perhaps it was all theatrics. The nucleus of Sigur Rós seemed in great spirits as the three took their bow before the ecstatic audience.
With the release of “Óveður,” it’s a matter of time before Sigur Rós unveil their next chapter. Whether this tour is serving to a personal challenge to perform as a three-piece or the next step in the bands evolution, it’s a show not to be missed. The band continue their North American trek through October; with a sure be monumental performance in April 2017, performing with orchestral and choral accompaniment for the the Reykjavik Festival at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Click here for more information.
Sigur Rós’ Minneapolis Setlist
*Lead vocalist/guitarist, Jónsi writes in his native Icelandic and the faux language of Vonlenska, which essentially translates to “Hopelandic.” Vonlenska is essentially a phonetic language without any inherent meaning. For the curious and unfamiliar, Jónsi’s solo album, Go, was written in English and may be a nice gateway into the world of Sigur Rós.