|Event:||Sólstafir + Myrkur + Árstíðir|
|Location:||Tvornica Kulture, Zagreb, Croatia|
Last backlash this year, concert-wise, for yours truly, with a trip to the wonderful and cold Croatian capital city: all the way from Iceland, Sólstafir are back touring Europe with their new album "Berdreyminn", alongside Myrkur and Árstíðir. An event which generated a fair amount of anticipation and, despite some slight disappointment related to the support bands, it was really worth the trip. Enjoy!
First band on stage, with already quite a few people inside the venue (due also to the rigid temperature outside) is Árstíðir, hailing from Iceland just like Tryggvason & co. The three-piece, as predicted, sounds a bit out of context in an evening like this: their indie-flavoured folk gets some encouragement applause, and the musicians probably know they are a bit borderline for this tour's audience.
Nevertheless, despite some small technical issues, the three Northmen succeed in making the show less boring than expected, also thanks to Sólstafir's drummer Hallgrímur Jón Hallgrímsson, who played with them for a couple songs and will be on their next full length album. An atypical performance, but in some way aligned to the folk side of the following artists.
Straight from Denmark, time for Myrkur, aka Amalie Bruun, to play in front of a definitely bigger crowd than an hour before. The blonde songwriter juggles between clean and (few) scream vocals, choosing songs from her two albums: from "The Serpent" to the Ulver-ish "Onde børn", from "Ulvinde" to "Elleskudt" finishing with the solo performance of "De tre piker", a traditional Nordic folk song, the attention is obviously catalyzed on Amalie, who perfectly shows her singing abilities with exceptional control, even in the most difficult parts.
The bad side of this show is that the blonde singer is the only 100% positive aspect of it. All the orchestrations present in "Mareridt", which are the key to its success, are nowhere to be heard here. The band has, in fact, opted for a stripped down arrangement: this is good, in a way, since they tried to adapt to their needs without using recorded parts, but on the other hand the new songs sound weak, as thick as a paper sheet. In addition to this, the performance of the other three musicians is just basic, they don't do anything much more than the bare minimum needed. So, a show just a bit above the passing mark, kept above water just by the exceptional performance of Amalie. A real pity, since I had great expectations after their last album.
The four Icelandic cowboys, perfectly on time, come up stage accompanied by Árstíðir's keyboard player Ragnar Ólafsson, in some sort of exchange which is definitely appreciated by the public. Beginning with the tape-recorded "Náttfari", the five guys slide through a ninety-minute, high intensity show, probably driven also by the fact that it was their first concert in Croatia. Four new songs from "Berdreyminn", which maybe needed a couple listenings on record but that here, in a live context, fit perfectly in an absolutely flawless setlist, ranging from "Köld" onwards. Aðalbjörn "Addi" Tryggvason confirms himself as a great frontman, with a great grasp on the audience (both figuratively and literally, given all the handshakes to the fans in the front rows) and a perfect vocal performance; the others are equally on point, with the theatrical Svavar "Svabbi" Austmann waving his long, red braids and "El Gringo" on guitar, steady and focused.
It's hard to say which song stands out on the others, such is the energy and involvement of the audience during each of them: if we really must, and we're being prosaic, we could say "Fjara" and the closing, colossal "Goddess Of The Ages", but that would mean pointlessly diminishing the other six tracks. A must see band, at least once, which gave us one of the most intense performances I can remember.