Like Dave Eggers’/ Spike Jonze and their adaptation of Sendak’s monsters and world of Where The Wild Things Are, Sigur Rós’ Jónsi has created a musical landscape and vision for his solo album and tour filled with innocence and wonder, fear and sadness, mischief and magic.
Debuting in Vancouver last night at the Vogue Theatre, Icelandic pixie Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson took to the stage in the near darkness, in a white jacket covered in colourful tassels, in front of a set created by London’s 59 Productions. “Stars in Still Water” began a pristine-sounding set as Jónsi’s otherworldly falsetto climbed over songs from his remarkable new album Go.
His band, multi-instrumentalists every one, played xylophones like cellos, banged percussion on tin-can cymbals, mixed samplers hidden in suitcases and traded between myriad keyboards and pianos.
On stage, burned-out glass boxes showed scratchy animations of animals, owls flew and wolves ran across a gauzy backdrop, flames licked, ferns grew and unfurled, hummingbirds visited flowers, ants marched, and rain, thunder and strobe lightning fell. It was a spectacle, indeed, but not so much to distract from this forest sprite’s angelic (or invincible) voice.
The show started slowly and quietly, with “Stars…” then slipped into “Hengilás” featuring eerie strings and lush orchestration. “Icicle Sleeves” grew from hesitant to enormous.
“It is exciting for us also”
But it was at the fourth-song mark, the stunning “Kolniđur”, that the performance took flight, almost literally, as animals ran and flew in a 3D effect across and through a backdrop, before the shroud fell to reveal a new set of bent, blacked-out windows, flickering at times like piano keyes or revealing trees peeking through. A wintry “Tornado” and “Sinking Friendships” followed before Birgisson surprisingly spoke: “Thank you very much for coming,” he said in a thick, singsong Icelandic accent. “This is our first show. So it is exciting for us also.” The crowd swooned.
Then the boychild and band launched into the playful vocal loops of “Go Do” before heading towards the song-that-should-also-be-in-a-film fantasy of “Boy Lilikoi”. Such prettiness.
By the end, Jónsi was clearly enjoying himself more than at the start, though – of course – not typically: here was no beaming, cocky frontman. Instead, through “Around Us” and encores including “Animal Arithmetic” and “Grow Till Tall” Jónsi clung to his microphone, lurched from side to side looking only downward, all the while wearing a feathered, felted headdress.
Like Max in Where the Wild Things Are, he was making mischief. Beautiful, staggering mischief that brought Vancouver to its cheering feet.
Let the wild rumpus start..and never stop. \m/
Jónsi performs again in Vancouver tonight (April 7) at the Vogue. Tickets available via livenation.com. For more information on Jónsi, Go, his solo world tour and the making of the live stage show, visit www.jonsi.com