Concert Review: Iceland’s Jónsi razzles, dazzles

Concert Review: Iceland’s Jónsi razzles, dazzles

By Charles Ferranti, News Correspondent

“Concert” seems somewhat an insufficient word for what Icelandic post-rock singer Jónsi offered ticket holders at the House of Blues May 5. It was, to say the least, an experience, riveting not only to the ears but also to the eyes and, (dare I say it?) the very soul. Jónsi (pronounced Yon-see), whose real name is Jónsi Thór Birgisson, is perhaps better known as the lead singer of the band Sigur Rós. However, the band has recently announced that it would go on an indefinite hiatus. Jónsi has worked tirelessly to jumpstart his solo career with a fantastic first album, Go, followed by an equally mesmerizing worldwide promotional tour.

Working with 59 Productions, a theatrical production company based in the United Kingdom, Jónsi has created a unique and dazzling visual performance that cooperates intricately with his music.

Following the opening act by Death Vessel, a neo-folk band from Rhode Island, Jónsi and his band took the stage to shouts from a supportive crowd. The band’s instruments included drums, bass, piano, and vibraphone, with Jónsi at the microphone.

His garb resembled that of a vivacious mummy, with a drab white coat adorned with numerous colorful scarves. The show featured several projection screens of varying sizes resembling museum exhibit cabinets, and one large screen at the back of the stage. The first tune, “Stars in Still Water” was somber but graceful, and as it progressed the lighting made it appear as though the entire set was burning away. Fire slowly worked its way across the screens, taking away the antiquated photographs of butterflies once there.

The following song seemed to shed hope on the set as depictions of live animals begin to appear as if awaking after the destruction of the fire from the previous tune. Jónsi then played “Kolnidur,” a piece that begins with a softer tone, but a steady — almost militant — rhythm.

The song progressed into a devastating crescendo until it ultimately exploded with thumping drum beats and swelling synthesizers. The set reflected this build with more animals, which appear to be a major theme in Jónsi’s work.

The music was a healthy combination of songs from the album and ones that are still in the works. In the end, Jónsi and the band returned to the stage for an encore, indulging the audience with “Animal Arithmetic.” At this point, Jónsi was sporting a lavish headdress like that of a Native American tribal chief.

The show came to a close with a performance of “Grow Till Tall,” which features another adrenaline-filled crescendo driven by Jónsi’s astounding drummer Thorvaldur Thorvaldsson, who uses anything from trashcan lids to suitcases throughout the show. The song begins with Jónsi’s soft, falsetto voice, and the set illustrates an incoming storm.

As the music ultimately builds to enormous volumes, the storm hits full force, and in an amazing display of technology and showmanship, powerful winds begin to blow away bits of the installation—window by window.

As the music ends, all that is left is the frame, and menacing clouds swirl in the sky. Jónsi’s production was unforgettable, and with its imaginative style and presentation, it is now difficult to pay to see concerts that resemble ragtag jam sessions when compared with this elaborate performance.

Leave a Reply