Venue: Fort Canning Park, Singapore
Date: 22nd November 2012
Promoter: LAMC Productions
Review by: Fadhil R.
Special Thanks: Andre and the LAMC Productions team
The only Icelandic word that I personally know which describes Sigur Ros’ music as a masterpiece. The twenty-third day of November 2012 was a great day of revelation for the band. With a capacity of approximately 10,000, Fort Canning Park, is one of the most prestigious rock venues in Singapore, and Sigur Ros with very much hype and fanfare were rocking for the first time in our beloved lion city! Ambitious and brave, the gig was a complete sell out, which involved an attendance of 9,000 and saw fans of all walks of life coming together. The band was on tour to promote Valtari, released in May earlier this year, and Singapore was fortunate to have been one of the group’s only two shows in Southeast Asia. The band has been growing in stature as a live act since they were formed, and oh boy was it a long wait as these veterans enjoyed a resurgence in popularity.
Boredom is not the particular case here, as die-hard fans were eagerly sitting on the grass instead of gearing up with ecstasy before the dressed-to-kill musicians came on stage. It took an act of God to delay the show, but nothing’s going to stop Sigur Ros. As there was barely space to move around or place a mat for a little picnic, it was time to turn on the magic and fancy the crowd with Sigur Ros’ glory. Slow tectonic melodies belted out as songs like ‘Í Gær’ and ‘Vaka’ created a real, pulse quickening of awe and stunning visuals. The first highlight of the show that stands out was their artistic way of leaving the projector screen lighted up with beautiful repetitive images at the back of the stage.
Different songs lead to different surroundings. Jonsi, Goggi and Kjarri kept switching instruments and roles, pulling off the majestic ‘Svefn-G-Englar’, which is worthy of a romantic night to listen to. At that moment I was still figuring it out what to expect from Sigur Ros in terms of a surprise element they might produce. The scope of the sound throughout had status-expanding potential written all over it and there where moments that night when Sigur Ros had hit such a massive, powerful groove that you get the feeling they’d given any of the upcoming gigs in Singapore a run for their money. Blessed with an excellent atmosphere, dark clouds over Fort Canning Park were starting to form and sync with emotions of their songs. At some point, there were connections within these familiar tracks from their album ‘Takk’, and I was very sure that ‘Glósóli’, ‘Hoppípolla’ and ‘Sæglópur’ left some of the crowd stranded in the middle lying down looking up at the beautiful night sky. It was that breathtaking.
This variety of music actually helped me to grow up even though I hardly relate my life to them. Showing emotion is the most human things one can do, and emotions of every kind pour out of the lyrics and voice of Jonsi Birgisson. With his bowed guitar equipped, he from afar proved to be a visionary of sorts. The band’s new piece ‘Brennisteinn’ sounded fresh, creating a challenging and an interesting new sound; a darker atmosphere with the rain that came pouring down and thunder groaning as additional effects. The root of all-evil lies in this song. Honestly, they are musically fierce, not in a frantic way of fast riffs or ultra speed in double pedals; they do things far more creative especially for songs like ‘Festival’ and ‘Olsen Olsen’. The four musicians knew when to grab hold the crowd during their weakest moment, which was the numbness they had to endure whilst standing. They’re not okay in the way that pizza is dipped in chocolate instead of cheese. Sigur Ros is better than okay, and I am ready to dispute this if anyone were to disagree with that. Their consistency in delivering their ways of music is just phenomenal. Truly phenomenal.
An hour and a half have passed and surely no one had given up standing. Although the Iceland flag wasn’t waved, instead it was Singapore’s, it seemed to be a indication that weather conditions were just about to get worse. Bypassing a seemingly golden opportunity to project visuals to accompany their material, the downpour at Fort Canning Park left the chance open for emotional discovery and interpretation. Each song played by the band so far frequently stretched beyond the six-minute mark, providing the encore to be a cinematic quality that owed to architecture, aura and continuity.
Ending the set with two powerful tunes, ‘Ekki Múkk’ optimized tone and texture, shifting focus away from the band’s soaked figures and towards the broad melodies within. ‘Popplagið’ however conjured up condensation droplets letting reverb-laden notes trickle to the extent the humming feedback made the trees all around swayed for a moment. Sigur Ros’ restraint and balance furthered the creative feeling that we are all part of a nostalgic film. No power chords, no showy leads, little dissonance, and generally moderate speed until the final note. Simply gorgeous.
Thank you Sigur Ros for bringing in such meditative moods to Singapore and I have to admit the closest the band came to overindulgence involved the band going into a freeze state in between songs of the set without a sound. And even that sounded pretty.