Sigur Rós – review

SECC, Glasgow

Perhaps Sigur Rós heard about the shoe aimed at Harry Styles when One Direction played the SECC recently. In any case, Iceland's most reliably euphoric post-rockers opened their first UK tour for five years effectively boxed in by three gauzy curtains. Thanks to canny lighting, the band and their small army of instrumental helpers were occasionally visible in silhouette amid the stage smoke murk.

But after the thrill of hearing them open with a new song – the woozy, string-laden Yfirborð, employing black-box trickery to periodically yank Jónsi Birgisson's vocals down an octave – the novelty quickly wore off. Even at the drum-clattering, guitar-bowing climax of Ný Batterí, it was hard to shake the feeling that 5,000 fans had come to gaze at a gigantic aquarium.

Then, after three songs, the curtains dropped, and the experience opened up. For a band so associated with sonic stateliness, Sigur Rós are currently in a creative tizzy: keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson recently left after 15 years, and after last year's album of low-ebb ambience, Valtari, the remaining trio are already working on a more assertive followup.

The new songs forcefully punctuate an otherwise soothing two-hour set. Brennisteinn is Sigur Rós laced with unexpected metal, studded by repeated, deafening, Inceptionesque parps. The glowering Kveikur is also surprisingly industrial, as if they suddenly want to sneak in ahead of the official Nine Inch Nails reunion.

Crucially, they also play their signature tracks with enough vigour to reclaim them from marketing-led ubiquity. The polyphonic glee of Hoppípolla will always be associated with televisual montage sequences, but it has rarely sounded better. And while a palliative sheen may have crept into their music in the past, Sigur Rós currently sound hungrier and more red-blooded than ever.

• What have you been to see lately? Tell us about it on Twitter using #GdnGig


Graeme Virtue

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Sigur Rós: Kveikur – review
Sigur Rós have a bit more sturm und drang on their latest, and it suits them well, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

13, Jun, 2013 @9:00 PM

Sigur Rós: Valtari – review
There are some lovely moments on these Icelandic rockers' latest, but too much of it is too easy to ignore, writes Maddy Costa

Maddy Costa

24, May, 2012 @9:30 PM

Article image
CD: Sigur Ros: ()


David Peschek

01, Nov, 2002 @1:38 AM

Article image
Sigur Rós: Kveikur – review

Sigur Rós flirt with the idea of a darker sound, but – disappointingly – stick to what they know, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

15, Jun, 2013 @11:04 PM

Sigur Rós: Valtari – review
Sigur Rós stick to what they do best on their atmospheric sixth album, says Hermione Hoby

Hermione Hoby

26, May, 2012 @11:05 PM

Article image
End of the Road festival – review

You see and hear a lot of guitars – dance music has made few inroads here – but Sigur Rós, Money, Palma Violets and Daniel Norgren make them count, writes Michael Hann

Michael Hann

02, Sep, 2013 @11:58 AM

Article image
CD: Sigur Ros, Takk...


Betty Clarke

09, Sep, 2005 @12:16 AM

Article image
CD: Sigur Ros, Hvarf/Heim


Alexis Petridis

02, Nov, 2007 @11:49 PM

Article image
Sigur Ros, Somerset House, London

Somerset House, London

Dorian Lynskey

12, Jul, 2005 @3:18 PM

Other pop CDs: Sigur Ros | The Dandy Warhols | Elbow | David Gray

Other pop CDs: Sigur Ros | The Dandy Warhols | Elbow | David Gray

Kitty Empire

10, Sep, 2005 @11:43 PM