FOR a decade and a half, Icelandic post-rock veterans Sigur Ros have been the zenith of semi-orchestral, semi-alternative rock soundtracks which encompass the senses like a force of nature.
This spectacular show in support of their recent seventh album Kveikur certainly didn’t buck that trend. It acted most emphatically upon the ears, but also on the eyes thanks to an all-encompassing visual backdrop, and upon a physically perceptible level of volume which unfurled down the spine.
Played in a murky half-light pierced by strobes, spotlights and cloud of candle bulbs dotted around the stage, the effect was partly to smother the visual evidence of a wardrobe of which Abba would be proud, with long-haired drummer Orri Pall Dyrason wearing a black sleeveless vest and bassist Goggi Holm and guitarist/singer Jonsi Birgisson donning elaborately patterned, tassel-sleeved suits. Yet it also created an emotional experience .
Through much of the set a smothering pall of reverberation hung over the music, and within that there were slight but precisely textured changes, for example the soft, feminine vocal ringing through Varuo or the unexpectedly motorik growl of Meo Bloonasir. Points of reference for the casual fan came with the nature documentary soundtracking familiarity of Hoppipolla and the pristine, definitive hymnal of Svefn-g-englar, although there was frankly no room for the to attention wander during this show. For those bearing witness, it was reassuringly all or nothing for two special hours.