Sigur Ros in Bristol
My birthday treat this year, coinciding with the disastrous EU referendum, was a trip to Bristol to catch a pre-Glastonbury appearance from long-time favourites Sigur Ros. The venue was the Canon’s Marsh Amphitheatre, an outdoor space in the lively harbour-side area of the city (fairly central, but inevitably I managed to get lost along the way). Mercifully, the rain stayed away.
In support was James Canty, a Liverpool-based singer-songwriter of a darkly romantic bent, whose set veered from folky acoustic guitar balladry to ranting electro wig-outs. There were some technical issues, but he displayed great charm, and was fairly well-received by the impatient crowd.
The headliners came on just after 9pm, and kicked off in ambient mode with “Óveður”, the song which recently sound-tracked their Slow TV Youtube film of a road-trip around their native Iceland; then came the magic moment when they played my absolute favourite song, the unnaturally lovely “Starálfur” – deeply moving. The early part of the set focussed on more familiar material, like “Sæglópur” and “Vaka” (although not their biggest hit, “Hoppipolla”), before settling into a Mogwai-esque “quiet-loud” groove – alongside the beauty (at one point, the seagulls seemed to start joining in, to the amusement of my fellow concert-goers) started there was a surprising amount of rocking out, accompanied by a stunning light-show. With only three band-members on stage, much of the music was inevitably on tape (or its electronic equivalent); but singer Jonsi’s ethereal, choirboy vocals still managed to connect; one could even forgive the fact that he spent most of the time playing his guitar with a violin-bow. They were on-stage for just under ninety minutes, including encores, but I don’t think I could have coped, emotionally, with much more. A remarkable band.