United Palace Theater
When Sigur Ros played the Manhattan Ballroom back in June, it was quite possibly the most ethereal concert experience I’ve ever had. Every moment of their performance was true bliss, and most of the others who were there felt the same way. Concerts of this emotional magnitude come very very rarely. This particular concert transformed me from a mid-level fan to worshiper of the band.
Last night, the epic Icelandic post-rockers returned to New York to play the magnificent United Palace Theater. Stripped down to a quartet for the first time in years, it was a more intimate version of the band than what we saw in June—no Amiina and no horns. Opening with the now classic “Sven G Englar,” there was a noticeable difference in the scale of their sound without the extra band members. The performance never quite reached that degree of ecstasy that was felt at Manhattan Ballroom on June. The setlist may not have been as strong, lights not as glorious, and the sound not as crisp, but it was still about as good a concert as you could ever see.
Without the full band, it was more noticeable just how powerful Goggi’s bass playing is to the sound of the band, especially on masterpieces “Vid Spilum Endalaust” and “Hoppipolla.” Singer/guitarist Jonsi got the crowd to stand and clap along to the freak-folkish “Gobbledigook,” which ended the regular portion of their set. When the band returned to the stage for their encore—the crowd still standing and cheering—in his sweet Icelandic accent Jonsi told the crowd they could sit down again. At that moment a young woman screamed “I Love You,” which pretty much spoke for how we all felt at the moment.
Sigur Ros has reached that level of being something really really special—an extremely unique band that everyone should give a chance. Amazingly they’ve done all this without English lyrics or even pronounceable song titles.
Photos by Jonny Leather