Live Review: Ásgeir's Meditative Night at the Astor
A close-knitted, meditative night of somber but beautifully thought-provoking music left the audience with answers to questions they did not know exist, while providing a basis for what sorrowful folk music should sound like.
We go to gigs for a reason. Sometimes it is just because we enjoy that particular artist and their voice or their instruments. But sometimes, a ticket is bought that harbours deeper notions, best paired with an artist that encourages those thoughts. An artist who creates a monumental exploration of their audience is the one who single-handily makes you stop and think. No gimmicks or flashy productions, just raw talent. Ásgeir at the ever-so-lovely Astor Theatre turned out to be one of those particular nights.
Opening for the Icelandic folk crooner was Australia’s own Gordi. Although not yet a household name, her exquisitely haunting voice has seen her play a number of local and national shows, making her somewhat a staple of low-key, mesmerising gigs. Her quiet voice became unable to hear, leaving her music to speak for itself. It’s a good thing she was rather good, as excited revellers would be left disappointed and disheartened for what was next to come.
Gordi ended her set to a crowd producing all the qualities needed to make it through a night of Ásgeir; mellow, calm and completely fascinated. First, the band came on. A 5-piece strong band who seemed to personify all the themes that follow the music and his brooding but beautiful records. Since releasing his newest album, Afterglow, we have seen a slightly different side to the 25-year-old singer/songwriter who rose to fame with his Triple J featured 2014 album, In the Silence. His first album translated to English brought the widely popular single 'King and Cross', two sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House, and he was fresh off packed shows from this year’s recent Splendour in the Grass.
Although Afterglow sticks to the same formula of dark, mysterious and haunting folk songs, the album is much livelier than his first. Speaking to the Sydney Herald back in April, he justified the electronic feel that ripples through the record by simply saying “It’s more upbeat I guess”. The mystery man from Iceland is a man of few words, this becoming a recurring theme in his live shows. His Astor Theatre show was everything you think it would be.
A self-confessed loner, his set was melancholic, contemplative and eerily beautiful, focusing solely on his voice with his band only enhancing what was already there. However, the big surprise of the night was the light displays that gave off a warm feeling that is very much suited and somewhat necessary to a man who is 2 albums deep. Maybe on your first tour, just you and some guitars would have been enough, but not on your second Mr. Ásgeir. The pleasant shock lifted the entire set, with the thin, vertical lamps flashing different colours and jarring as the music hit certain notes and pitches.
Like any musician who favours slow, pensive live shows over high energy and obnoxiously loud performances, the chances of being branded as boring or repetitive are extremely high. Personally, Ásgeir delivered what he is known for, and to do anything different wouldn’t only be an injustice to his beautiful new album, but it would be against his quiet persona. And hey, he’s getting better – he brought some funky lamps and a bigger band, what more do you want from an angelic Icelandic folk singer?
It’s nice to have you back Ásgeir, everyone needs some ominous folk music in their life.