"How many on stage?". At first it seemed five, then at times eight, then six, then nine.
Then there was a quartet of female violin-type instruments playing behind the male vocalist. Haunting is an easy word to dig out of my repertoire and paste against the experience that was Sigur Ros (see their homepage). My first attendance at a live gig in over a year, Nick Cave at Festival Hall being the last. Festy Hall is gone now, but Nick was back recently, playing to a packed Entertainment Centre. Having seen Sigur Ros tonight my gig-going gland was stimulated and now I'm regretting missed tours and planning outings to Little Birdy and Martha Wainwright in the next month.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I bought two tickets just after my return from Fiji last week, being told they were just about sold out. I had never been to the Tivoli before and hoped it was a good venue, given the AUS$74 per ticket price. That's around the same price as I'd paid for Nick Cave, but with Nick, every song I love, whereas with SR it's more a case of loving a couple and being indifferent to the bulk of their work.
Like most, I was introduced to the whole Iceland music scene via Bjork. Who can say if I would have been watching SR play live tonight if the Bjork phenomenon had never occurred? I doubt it, she broke the ice (pun intended) in many ways, moving Icelandic artists from the realm of Slushee stereotyped jokes to "real" artists.
Melodic, orchestral, big...all words that apply to the SR concert tonight. I'm no reviewer, and I had my first gabo shot in 10 days before entering the gig. Obeying the law that the more important an event you have to attend, the longer the scoring process takes, it turned out we had to drive to Pimpana (why?) to get on, and back again. Considering we didn't decide to get on until 6:30, and doors opened at 7pm, we were kinda lucky to see SR.
So how were they? Haunting, as I said earlier. Vocals straight out of some seraphim's training manual, angelic that is. Eclectic tunes, rocking melodic songs one moment, instrumental hymnals the next. All utterly indecipherable of course, I doubt many in the crowd had a working understanding of Icelandic, and even if they did, how often can you understand English lyrics?
But it was worth the $150. Live music has an indefinable quality. Maybe it's the crowds, maybe it's the venue, I don't know, but it beats watching DVDs or listening to a CD at home. When Twain said the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning-bug, he could have been comparing live music to a recording.
I guess we should be thankful that these 9 or six or 5 or however many people decided to take time out of their lives to fly all around the world playing their instruments, turning up here in Brisbane to keep us entertained.
The only downside was the Tivoli staff not allowing us any stub of the tickets while the venue was still open. For those of us like myself who like to keep a memento for the future, this small-mindedness put a negative spin on the whole affair. Small bikkies in reality.
Shout out to KW Jeter, my newest discovered cyber writer. Add him to Gibson on the list of great SF cyberpunk writers. I found him via Blade Runner II, III and IV. There's a photo of KWJ and Philip K Dick on inside cover, giving you the impression (without saying so much) that PKD gives his seal of approval to the trilogy. Jeter's trilogy follows the 1982 Bladerunner movie more than Dick's "Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep". Where Dick looked at empathy being the defining trait of humanity, Jeter rather follows up the whole what makes a human human anyway without focusing on any one trait.