Bottom line concert review – At one point during the Ásgeir performance, I turned to my co-blogger and said, “I feel privileged.” Not privileged in the sense of being special or pampered. Rather, it was a feeling of being privileged to attend an event with a number of elements that collectively made the evening memorable - as if being in the home of a gifted musician, where he and his friends were entertaining themselves by playing music.
The major export of Iceland during the last few years must be the appreciation of Icelandic music. It has to be, since there are only about a third of a million residents and so many of them are busy generating quality music without merely following the well-traveled paths.
One of the best examples of this exportation of appreciation is the current U.S. tour by Ásgeir. He released his debut album, “Dýrð Í Dauðaþögn,” in 2012. It exploded in Iceland, breaking a number of Icelandic sales records. The estimate is that ten percent of the country’s citizens purchased the album (one estimate even insists that the figure is closer to twenty percent). A number of the songs have been translated into English and sales are now increasing in the U.S. and other countries.
Ásgeir is currently touring with Irish singer/songwriter Hozier. Tickets for most of their shows are difficult to obtain. In addition, Ásgeir takes advantage of openings in the tour schedule to headline at smaller venues. One opportunity was the February 9 show at The Independent in San Francisco. Although we attend shows at The Independent on a regular basis, this was our first seated performance. The concert sold out relatively quickly, so the decision to setup tables and chairs (significantly reducing the capacity of the venue) was the first sign that Ásgeir was performing for the love of his art, rather than to pay the bills. The venue was intimate, the patrons were friendly, and the members of the band were relaxed.
Ásgeir was joined by his childhood friend and collaborator, Julius Róbertsson, and Guðm. Kristinn Jónsson (Kiddi), who produced the debut album "In the Silence /Dýrð Í Dauðaþögn.”
There was even a Nirvana cover (“Heart-Shaped Box”) within the setlist. It was an interesting cover – hearing a Nirvana song performed in a falsetto voice that is typical of Ásgeir. The final two songs were Ásgeir's breakthrough single "King and Cross" and the track "On That Day." For that final song, Ásgeir manned the electrical guitar and stood alone on the stage (see the picture on the right).
After each song in the setlist, Ásgeir said an endearing "Thank you.'' Everything he said and did evidenced the fact that he is a genuinely "good guy."
"King and Cross"
An interesting interview on NPR: