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Live Review: Ásgeir, July 23 @ The Metro Theatre

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on July 31, 2014

Words by Clancy Gibson

I was talking to my housemate before I left for the show on Wednesday night at the Metro Theatre. ” Ásgeir ?” my housemate questioned, “I haven’t heard of him, what he like?” I racked my musical memory bank for something reflecting his sound. I replied by saying,  “It’s a little like Sigur Ros, Miike Snow and Bon Iver all rolled into one.” Ásgeir  sings with a heavenly voice and his songs seamlessly fold traditional folk with electronic elements, giving the music a uniquely contemporary twist .

The 22-year-old Icelandic singer-songwriter has received worldwide acclaim for his debut album In The Silence (originally released in 2012 in Iceland, titled Dýrð í dauðaþögn). The tour was advertised as being “the newest and most exciting act to come out of Iceland in recent times.”  Needless to say, the gig was very sold out. The earliest punters to arrive at the Sydney venue were treated to an opening performance from upcoming artist Airling.

Airling, aka Brisbane’s Hannah Shepherd was a strong choice to kick off the show, filling the Metro with hauntingly beautiful sounds. The first artist signed to Big Scary’s own label Pieater, her bold tracks showed off some perfectly executed high notes supported by electronic loops, samples and simple yet strong percussion. Airling is already creating a little stir. Her heavily ‘80’s influenced tracks really champion Shepherd’s incredible vocal abilities, and has already garnered Triple J Unearthed attention – she was chosen to open last week’s Splendour in the Grass Festival.

Following the end of Airling’s set, the crowd waited as sound technicians methodically checked every instrument. Not one space of the stage was wasted: six guitars, drums, three synths and a keyboard filled every spot.. Finally, an Icelandic chant immersed the venue. The dimly lit stage kept the crowd (literally) in the dark while the anticipation kept thickening. . Small streams of torch lights from the side of the stage announced the band had arrived, and little waves of claps and cheers began breaking out among the crowd.

Within the first few seconds of the first song, the Metro was dumbfounded by a wave of musical sensory overload. There was no moshing, no security guards pushing though unmoving people to get to a misbehaving punter. The venue was calm, docile and completely in a trance as everybody watched a perfectly orchestrated sound engulf the crowd.

The first thing that stuck me about this band is how much character each member had. All sporting either a fedora hat, button up shirt or beard, all members have a fashionable flair. The drummer flaunted a paisley shirt and a massive beard, and an animated aptitude that spilled into his musical ability. All was revealed with the amazing percussion heard from the very first track Head in the Snow.

Needless to say, each member of Ásgeir ‘s touring band hold admirable talent. The guitarist faultlessly executed  a rolling rhythm on a steel string guitar that supported the floating angelic vocals of the young and timid Ásgeir Trausti. After a bout of songs delivered in Icelandic and English, Ásgeir acknowledges the crowd in a softly spoken, polite tone.  “I’ve only been here for two days, but they have been great.” Here to play Splendour in the Grass, he and his support band enjoyed a very successful first tour of Australia, selling out two side shows in Melbourne and Sydney.

You can see why these tickets were snapped up; these guys are authentic musicians, delivering a powerful live performance. Not relying on much other than musical talent to keep the crowd entertained, the lights were kept simple, mostly staying at a frosty Icelandic blue, with a warm flood light to aid the mood.

Keeping the crowd on their toes, Ásgeir addressed the crowd once more to announce he’s about to do a Nirvana cover . The first few chords flowed through his keyboard and out came the unmistakeable Heart Shaped Box. Using synths and clever back up vocals to build an ethereal atmosphere, Ásgeir successfully delivered an ambient and incredibly unique version of the classic track.

At 22, and holding so much talent, you can see why the world has its eye on Ásgeir. I look forward to seeing more from this very gifted musician.

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