Photos by Neil Van
What a difference a venue can make! Last night, Iceland’s Sigur Rós touched down in Toronto for a sold out show at Echo Beach, their second visit to town in under twelve months. The band still has no new album to promote and continue making the rounds as a 3-piece.
With the much larger crowd and the outdoor setting, I feared the audience-respect levels, something absolutely required during a Sigur Rós set which can be virtually quiet at times and explode in beautiful fury at others. But the fear turned out to be misguided with aside from a few, the crowd was largely respectful.
The almost two-hour set was divided into two sets with a short intermission, much like their last appearance at Massey Hall. The first set was definitely the quiet of the two, but the audience respect made the quitter songs have a greater-than-expected result outside.
Stellar lighting aside, the city skyline is a beautiful backdrop for the music of Sigur Rós, but I found I couple sets of floodlights pointing at the Echo Beach area distracting. In fact, I found the whole setting a bit distracting and maybe the weather might have been a factor in all of this. I was at the same venue last Monday for The xx and that was a better fit.
I’ve seen Sigur Rós a lot. I’ve seen them outside before, and I have to say this was the least impactful I’ve seen them. With brisk winds the times the band unleash a might roar, and last night the first attempt at the mighty roar was “Glosoli”, the roar was dulled to a whimper. The explosion of noise at the end was just too quiet, and either the band are travelling with a slightly scaled-down lightshow or the wind just made their projections not static.
If I had never seen the band before, I’d be thinking differently. I took a friend who had never seen them before and he loved it, but unfortunately I’ve been spoiled by the countless Massey Hall visits where the room fits the dramatic intensity required for a Sigur Rós gig and this venue was just not the right fit.
So while the band themselves put on a great show and the sound was clear, it wasn’t loud enough and really lacked the intensity of what they are truly capable of in the live setting. Even the Air Canada Centre provided a better atmosphere for them and it truly hurts me to have to say that
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