Ásgeir live at The Metro, Sydney
Harriet Cheney checked out Icelandic singer/songwriter Ásgeir’s debut visit to Australia:
I had high expectations from this gig as Ásgeir’s debut album released in English earlier this year was a lush serving of superb indie folk-pop comparable with the likes of Friendly Fires and Bon Iver.
The anticipation in the sold-out venue was immense. A sea of hoodies, checks, leopard print, denim, beanies, flat caps and the odd suit, waited to be wooed by the Icelandic charmer and his band.
Opening the set with a pitch-black stage and an Icelandic folk song set the scene beautifully. In fact the first four songs were all sung in his native tongue – the way they were originally written (later translated into English with the help of American musician John Grant). I’m not sure if that was done to calm Ásgeir’s nerves or to fulfill his artistic vision, as he was incredibly nervous and really struggled to hit the mark in the beginning.
Even when the gig was well underway, the music was positioned as the hero at every turn at the expense of a true live experience. The stage remained predominantly in darkness for the duration of the set and there was minimal interaction with (and barely a glance at) the audience. As he sang “I lift my mind to the sky and let it take flight” I wondered if that had actually happened.
Usually I come away from gigs showcasing debut albums intrigued to see how the artist will develop musically, but in this instance I am most interested in seeing how Ásgeir develops as a performer. After all, what’s the point in seeing music live if listening to the album on some great speakers at home is just as good?
The highlight was the synth-infused tune “Going Home”, but overall it was such an introverted show that I felt no connection to the incredible musician on stage. It’s his first time in Australia and he’d only been here for two days. Unfortunately, I think a combination of jetlag, shyness and typical Scandinavian modesty were the winners of this performance.
I went home and listened to his haunting and heartfelt, electro-tinged album and consoled myself with the idea that that big bushranger looking drummer would beat a bit of stage presence into Ásgeir. I look forward to his next visit.
Ásgeir live review and live photo by Harriet Cheney.