Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question. Massive thanks go out to the Setlistfm, Lastfm and the Youtubers whose content that I have used either indirectly or directly in this blog post.

Unlike my last gig, this one took me a little by surprise and so I wasn’t nearly as prepared for it. With full time work and loads of outside commitments to my local games club keeping me busy, I didn’t look into the support act Blanck Mass.

So you could say I was a little surprised to find out from one of my two co-conspirators going to this gig that Fuck Buttons were playing! How could I not have known this?

This resolved itself relatively quickly once we arrived at the gig on a fresher, lighter than usual, Spring Saturday evening where we quickly spotted Blanck Mass tees at the merch stand and – guize srsly… srsly guize – £40 Sigur Rós hoodies. My word.

The Saturday night gigging, that I could get used to (particularly seeing as Kvelertak and My Bloody Valentine are both playing this coming Saturday – expect an upcoming review on the latter) but holee carp – The Prices! It had been a while since I’d had to attend an SECC gig but if there was any doubt, truly the moolah involved indicated that I had arrived.

4 quid for a pint – BANG! 4 quid more for a burger – horse meat no extra charge – BANG! BANG!…And the money is gone. Cillit Bang it ain’t.

The one cheap thing about the gig was the free set of ear protectors at the first-aid tent that I picked up in anticipation of walking into a wall of sound from the solo project of one of the founding members of Fuck Buttons and their ear destroying loop-based build ups.

I’m almost sad to say that I didn’t need them. I was just getting into Benjamin John Power’s hypnotic loops in spite of a lot of the power of the music fading out into the vast open acoustics of the hall (the SECC being designed more for trade shows and events than music shows) when, from my standing point 12 rows or so back, I started to hear the buzz of conversation behind me over the top of the music. It seemed that Blanck Mass didn’t succeed in capturing the attention of the audience.

With hindsight, I think that Blanck Mass were always going to be fighting a bit of an uphill battle with the crowd, what with the nature of the project and Benjamin being a one-man band behind a laptop with only a few visuals to entertain the crowd. That’s without looking at the music itself; it’s more the kind of thing that you might sit and listen to in a static environment like your house or on the commute to work than music you would want to dance, stand or even scratch your chin to. All the same, I don’t think Blanck Mass went down badly since the cheers when Mr Power finished his, “one long track” (as one of my co-conspirators put it) were much louder than the odd boo you could hear coming from the back of the crowd.

If there was anything I felt boo’ing about, it was the one hour and thirty minute wait before any sign of an act came on prior to Blanck Mass. I’m always really disappointed when bands open doors early (6.30pm in this case) only for them to keep keener fans waiting around. It made me all the more glad that I hadn’t attended this one alone and I managed to chat everything music and gaming with two good friends during that time. I feel for anyone who was caught waiting around with little to do.

Moving on to the good stuff though, headliners Sigur Rós were sublime. They were greeted with a couple of exuberant screams and yells which were laughed off by most of the crowd as the band meandered into the set.

Filling the stage with approximately 10 or so players, they played the risky gambit of opening with two new tracks from an as yet unreleased album and although I don’t think it really drew the crowd in as opening with a classic might have, it allowed us to focus on the visual spectacle of the light show they put on which involved a large see-through curtain, which caught light displays of icy landscapes and frozen effects. The aforementioned Blanck Mass also took advantage of this unique set-up but to less startling effect.

It wasn’t until 3 long tracks in when we were greeted with the moody, atmospheric, bass-driven classic “Ný Batterí”. The track set the tone for the gig both in mood and effect.

While “Ný Batterí” set the gig off on a low, darker point, with “Vaka” and “E-Bow” adding to that atmosphere, half-way through I noticed how the band picked up the tone to a lighter and in some cases, ecstatic mood with long-awaited Takk album tracks, “Hoppípolla” and “Glósóli” eventually making appearances. My memories of “Svefn-g-englar” from the gig are particularly poignant, perhaps highlighted by the light bulbs around the set chiming in time to the sonar-like sound throughout the song adding to my memory and rounding off the spine-tinglingly beautiful enders.

Popplagið” closed the set off perfectly by encapsulating those beautiful moments that were towards the end of the set, only to pick up to a climactic fever-pitch in which the band displayed perhaps what was the closest they get to ‘heavy’, reminding us of the mood that they had set earlier.

The number of songs referred to above in the last 2 paragraphs does nothing to exemplify just how many strong, strong songs the band have in a star-studded back catalogue of tunes. Some how, I had actually forgotten Sigur Rós amongst all the other bands that I’ve been listening to over the past couple of years despite instantly needing to hear more of them after being linked to the “Glósóli” video over 10 years ago now.

More so than anything Sigur Rós live are a spectacle of a different stripe than I’m used to. Where I’ve seen crazy shows that blow your mind from the metal and punk spectrum or sheer volume from the likes of drone bands, the Icelandic band are more of a musical powerhouse, which their front man, Jónsi exemplified more than anything as the clear star of the show. Whether he was opening tracks with his trademark violin bow and guitar to create sweeping soundscapes that would make the likes of Boris green with envy or spotlighted on stage holding unreplicatable falsetto notes for impossible periods of time, he demonstrates that he can push boundaries further than us mere mortals.

As if to test him, in the final track, “Popplagið”, mentioned above, he faced technical difficulties with his guitar as it appeared to cut out only for him to continue on and power through the vocal section of the track until the guitar managed to fix itself. Star power: activated.

Since it’s Wendesday and already 4 days after the gig, quite a few other reviewers have got to reviewing this ahead of me. I really appreciate their input and getting feedback on their views as it helps me come to my own conclusions just that little bit more readily.

However, one review stands out to me – mostly because I agree with it on just about everything except one issue. The Glasgow Herald wrote this review, inferring that Sigur Rós didn’t connect with the audience.

Although the reviewer accepts that they don’t really need to – that’s not what the band do – at least not in a traditional sense any way, they suggest that perhaps taking an hour to greet the crowd might have caused a disconnection. Having seen bands who simply do not greet their listeners at all, I don’t think this was the issue at all.

If there was a flaw to be addressed in the set, I feel that the airy venue of the SECC caused the disconnection between band and audience: massive, climactic moments simply weren’t quite what they could’ve been if the band’s music had filled the room as it should have. As a result, a band who are known to produce albums that give audiophiles wet dreams had a diminished effect.  The same could be said for Blanck Mass who were similarly hampered. If the Glasgow Herald was correct in this, we wouldn’t be seeing the heaps and heaps of praise being poured upon the band for this gig around the Internet as we are now. Go take a look!

Now for some of those visuals:

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