The Midnight Sun: a Light in the Storm. This is the name of the tour Sólstafir is bringing around Europe, a series of special events with the support of a string quartet, granting more depth to their already highly evocative songs. No support bands, two sets separated by a short intermission: Kino Šiška is predictably crowded and the Icelandic cowboys did not disappoint.
Introduced by the usual “Nàttfari“, the band comes on stage, composed of nine people: in fact, Sólstafir are accompanied by Ragnar Ólafsson, Árstíðir’s keyboard player and actual fifth member on tour, plus a string section made of two violins, a viola and a cello. The band gives a great impression right away, with the tipycal attitude and intensity that Aðalbjörn Tryggvason and his colleagues never fail to show.
The first set draws from the bands’ latest two albums, “Berdreyminn” and the wonderful “Ótta”, which is the most represented in the setlist: four tracks which benefit greatly of the live orchestral sections. From the long “Náttmál” to the title track, with songs such as “Hula” (by now an audience favourite) skillfully played by a band which is 100% sure of their capabilities, with the istrionic Svavar Traustason and the austere Sæþór “Gringo” Sæþórsson moving from left to right on stage. “Miðaftann” closes in a nice way the first set, leaving the band with a twenty-minute pause before coming back.
It’s time now for the women on stage, under the spotlight during their brief solo performance which introduces the other five musicians back. The second part of the evening sets off with “Lágnætti” before going back in time, with some songs particularly dear to the band (“Necrologue“), the always moving “Fjara” and “Kukl” (from the landmark album “Svartir Sandar”) before the end with the usual “Goddess of the Ages“: the band explodes and releases the tension accumulated throughout the evening, with a final climax in which everyone sets loose, including Ragnar holding his keyboard and the audience in complete ecstasy.
Spring 2019 couldn’t begin in a better way, with two things we can take for granted by now: Kino Šiška, always impeccable in terms of organization and sound, and the Icelanding guys with their show which, even though not so different from their usual one (throwback to their Zagreb performance a little more than a year ago), is always on point and never lets down.
Goddess of the Ages