Sigur Ros at The O2 on 16-11-2013 by Yan Bourke-18-banner

Sigur Ros at The O2, Dublin on Saturday the 16th of November, 2013.

Opening the gig behind a full length gauzy curtain, emblazoned by visual effects, one could be forgiven for assuming 10,000 people were about to take in a show that was the equivalent of a fanciful fish tank.

Thankfully, three songs into the set, Sigur Ros drop the veil and what was once an ethereal, silhouetted view of the band, opened up to a beautifully empty experience. For a band so associated with such sonic stateliness, particularly following last year’s album of low-ebb ambiance ‘Valtari’, their latest outing pushes forth songs that forcefully punctuate an otherwise soothing two-hour set.

Tracks from ‘Kveikur’ are surprisingly industrial, particularly when you account for the other musicians on stage, set to take on a more orchestral feel. The highlight of the evening comes in around the halfway mark, with their signature track reclaiming the crowd from an otherwise dazed look. The polyphonic glee of Hoppípolla will always be associated with televisual montage sequences, but it has rarely sounded better.

This was unfortunately where the show peaked. The clutch of post-rock anthems, bolstered by a well-rehearsed and dynamic band, make it the easiest thing in the world to suspend your disbelief, but only for so long. The murmurs of a crowd unwilling to remain silent during such a set take away from the experience. The drunks stumbling through the 02 seem at odds with the music, and the overall feeling contrasted awfully with tranquil feeling you get when listening to any Sigur Ros record alone.

As a whole, the night feels underwhelming, a complaint you will rarely hear of such an established act. Much of the pristine and gossamer sounds the band so famously creates on their records is crumpled-up pretty hard in the live show. If anything, it could be argued that the experience could have been saved with a fully seated venue, where the crowd could properly appreciate Sigur Ros in what should have been an otherwise otherworldly experience.

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Photos: Yan Bourke