On Tuesday 22nd July I was lucky enough to get tickets to see Asgeir play live at The Forum in Melbourne for one of his Splendour in the Grass sideshows. Having just gotten off the plane from Iceland that day, his first time in Melbourne, and Australia for that matter, Asgeir put on an absolutely fantastic show.
Venue: The Forum felt like an appropriate venue for this particular gig. It’s a venue that makes you feel like you’re outside and the ‘Ancient Roman’ statues that serve as decorations are pretty kooky. The crowd had a good vibe with a relaxed atmosphere.
Supporting Act: Airling definitely deserves a mention. Coming from Triple J Unearthed she is definitely not going to continue to be a supporting act for much longer. Once you get over the fact that she looks a real lot like Ellie Goulding, you can see that Airling is an appropriate name for her breathy, ghostly tunes. She set a good mood for main-man to come onstage to.
Despite his growing fame, Asgeir wasn’t a Diva and came onstage pretty close to the promised time of 9.45pm. Smoke machines filled the stage with fog and what sounded like the Icelandic version of a Gregorian chant was sung. It created a spooky atmosphere and built tension. When he finally came on it was spectacular. Asgeir’s voice is just amazing and sounded even better live.
What was really nice about this show was that Asgeir played his songs in a combination of Icelandic and English versions. It’s always good to see an artist staying true to their roots. ‘Higher’ was among those played in Icelandic. Hearing the song how it was intended to be played resounded in the quality of the performance; it was like hearing entirely new tunes.
A real highlight of the night for me was when Asgeir performed his cover of ‘Heart Shaped Box’ by Nirvana. Because of the originality of Asgeir’s sound in contrast with the 90s rock of Nirvana, this song sounded completely different. I didn’t even realise that it was ‘Heart Shaped Box’ until a few minutes in. It’s always good to hear an artist deviate from their album when performing a set and this really picked up the mood.
The last song before the encore was ‘King and Cross.’ This sounded a lot more electronic with greater use of effects and was very different to the version on the album – in a very good way.
‘Going Home’ was another favourite from the performance. This too sounded a lot more electronic than the album version, with the effect of it sounding very dark and dramatic. This intensity made me feel almost as if ZHU was about to jump on stage – a remix would not have been entirely out of place. Some extra guitar solos brought in a whole other dimension. Re-listening to the song on my speakers at home makes the recorded version sound almost bland in comparison.
Overall Asgeir is a great performer. He interacted with the audience, giving us interesting tidbits of information about the band members; who included his brother and producer. Though with an accent like that Asgeir could talk about pretty much anything and he would still enthral. Asgeir gave so much more in his live show than what you get from listening to an album, giving us a reminder of the reason that we go to live gigs and yet another reason to be jealous of everyone who is at Splendour in the Grass this weekend.