GIG REVIEW: SOLSTAFIR Live At Grunspan, Hamburg
Sólstafir announced a special tour a few months ago, and stopped at Grünspan in Hamburg on 17th May 2016 –a tour in respect to their newest record ‘Ótta’. The specialty about this tour is that they would play as the single band on that evening, and I was very curious about the arrangements with orchestral parts.
A big projection of something Viking-like opened the evening, and after maybe 5 minutes, the movie stopped with a little cliffhanger and the musicians entered the stage. Four string players (three violins and one cello) entered first followed by the guys of Sólstafir. The first half of the evening was about the album ‘Ótta’ in a new way, with few new arrangements and, of course, the strings. The first song “Dagmál” began and everyone in the venue could hear a new version of it –the guys of Sólstafir created a sphere of epicness while they played with the strings and made my skin crawl.
I think the other people in the audience felt similarly as I looked them in their faces. As guitarist Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson took his banjo everyone knew that the title track “Ótta” was coming. The strings hit the mood of the audience again as the song built up further. The people listened with closed eyes, danced or nodded their heads, except for the occasional one. The following songs were all the other tracks of the record ‘Ótta’. The first half of the evening was, simply said, an hour of hypnotic and wonderful travel through the eight islandic daytimes with a great light show and pictures and movies on the wall. ‘Ótta’, with the strings and the new arrangements on stage, was incredibly epic, gorgeous, powerful, and wonderful all at once.
After that, the movie part from the beginning continued for around 15 minutes, as a break. This introduced the second part of the evening, with six tracks off the previous albums ‘Svartir Sandar’ and ’Köld’. What made this part of the evening special was the rearrangements of the songs, especially including the string players in the songs. This let it become a special experience although the songs were well-known. I had the feeling that all people in the venue enjoyed the older, well-known songs backed by the new arrangements. Frontman/guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason felt the spirit in the venue and I could see he enjoyed it with us. During the last song of the evening, “Goddess of the Ages”, he climbed onto the bar table to sing a part of the lyrics there while he shook the hands of some guys from the audience. A wonderful part and a gorgeous finale for an evening!
Sólstafir entertained for two and a half hours and ruled the venue in every sense: the sound was perfect, the light/video show was very impressive, the setlist was wonderful, and the string arrangements made our skin crawl. Overall, this evening wasn’t just a concert, it was a memorable experience.