Sunday, 3 March 2013

Sigur Ros, Blanck Mass. Gig Review SECC, Glasgow

Sigur Ros were back in Glasgow again this weekend. Last time that I saw them they put on a great show at the Carling Academy. Tonight it was the less atmospheric setting of the SECC but as Partick Thistle had beaten Dunfermline 4-0 in the afternoon I started the evening in a good mood, ready to forget these things.

When I saw the "Valtari Film Experiment" recently, a collection of random films to tracks from the latest Sigur Ros album, to be honest I was glancing at my watch a few times to see how long there was to go. I don't know if this was the fault of the films or the music from Valtari which I found to be a bit on the bland side. Maybe the band agree, as tonight's show only featured a couple of tracks from their latest album, included 3 new tracks not yet released, and a mixture of stuff from previous albums such as Takk, Hvarf/Heim and even Agaetis Byrjun. The line-up has shifted a bit too with Kjartan Sveinsson having left to pursue his interests in scores for films and classical composition, and the band have promised that their next album due out in 2013 will see a change in direction.


Blanck Mass, noodling away behind the mosquito net

First up was Blanck Mass, Benjamin John Power off of Fuck Buttons, doing his solo electronic thing. Twelve months ago when I last saw him in a wee basement room in almost total darkness at the Art School I felt he struggled to get much of an atmosphere going, so I feared that his introspective set that night would vanish in the SECC's main aircraft hangar hall. To be honest I think it worked better in the big space, despite him spending the whole time hunched over his laptop shrouded behind a giant mosquito net. However the ambient, almost whale sound of his stuff, as he nods his head over the laptop is going to make it hard to engage with any crowd which isn't completely stoned. Without the frenetic rhythms of Fuck Buttons it becomes music to stroke your chin to. I like his album and often listen to it if I've got to do a long drive or I'm reading but I just find that when it is performed live it leaves me cold.

Jonsi, playing guitar with his bow as usual, and Sigur Ros came on stage next and the reason for the mosquito net became apparent as they performed the first few songs surrounded by it whilst clouds and forest were projected onto it. 

Sigur Ros, amidst the shrubbery
They don't go in for much chit-chat but hold your attention by providing a complete 'son et lumiĆ©re' show, with the big screen behind them on the go once they dropped the netting. It looked like about 11 musicians on stage, including strings and a brass section. They played all the crowd pleasers - Hoppipolla, Vaka, etc and finish on a full bloodied Popplagid. The new songs were interesting, but veering dangerously close to Muse at times when everything was getting chucked in on them (particularly Kveikur), but I think they sound like a step in the right direction away from Valtari which at times becomes a bit characterless. They were on stage for about 2 hours, put on a great live show again and I await their next album with interest.

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