Sigur Rós @ Spark Arena – 21/07/17
Words by James McGeorge
On a fairly miserable, rainy Auckland Friday night the thought of immersing myself in what had been billed as seeing “something no one has ever seen before” seemed a pretty good idea, why not try something different?
I had limited knowledge of Sigur Ros ahead of their gig but knew their career highlights and recognised many of them, associating them with advertisements or from movies.
I hoped the experience would meet its promise as billed. It took no time at all to be blown away by the sheer uniqueness of the sound of the music, the bowed guitar, the mesmeric high vocals all combined with a lighting spectacle to create an aural and visual experience like no other I’d ever witnessed.
Sigur Ros’ Hopelandic language allowed the audience to disregard following lyrics and instead focus their senses on the enthralling live act playing out in front of them. Touring without a support act, the event was clearly signposted as consisting of two hour long sets separated by an intermission.
I hadn’t appreciated the full extent of the production that Sigur Ros were touring with, which included a huge screen with intricate visuals that reminded me of early Microsoft screen savers, except dialed up on quality, definition, and saturation. In front of the large screen at the back of the stage was what appeared to be a gauze-like screen which could be raised or lowered, enabling secondary visuals in front of the main screen, sometimes seeming to refract what was being projected from behind. Added to this were a series of light posts scattered around the stage yet also creating a matrix with a few almost horizontal lines of lights which provided intriguing depth.
The visuals were no side show to the band – both the visual and the aural were deliberately linked and choreographed to perfection, with the display morphing to the music as it developed, with flashes to drum beats and eeiry, luminous and at times trippy lighting of the stage. The visual effects also cycled through a wide variety of effects and styles, never appearing to be tired or traipsing the same concept across multiple songs.
The lighting wasn’t the only part of the show that appeared to constantly change and evolve; the band members themselves took on a variety of roles, with the drummer, bassist and lead vocalist/guitarist all taking turns on the keys, sometimes switching places seamlessly mid-song.
As one of the guys next to me noted: if you see that Sigur Ros are coming to your town, just go and see them. They will be completely different to anything else you see, they are doing their own thing that no one else comes close to. Can’t argue with that. There are some bands you can watch for over two hours and head home satisfied with a great night out. There are fewer who leave you wanting more, and that’s how I was left after Sigur Ros broke with the trend of obviously scripted encores by performing two sets of bows instead.