SIGUR RÓS live at Castello Estense – Ferrara Sotto le Stelle – July 26th 2013

Jonsì may not have been anticipating a heatwave but he is a man who is prepared for all weather conditions.

Jónsi may not have been anticipating a heatwave but he is a man who is prepared for all weather conditions.

On the drive to this show my dashboard display showed the temperatures on the motorway  to be around 35°C.  It was just as sweltering in the city centre for the closing concert of the Ferrara Sotto Le Stelle season.

Italians are usually in their element in hot weather but being packed into the outdoor concert venue in such conditions, even they looked sweaty and uncomfortable.  The impressive Castello Estense  makes for a magical setting for this most magical of groups but there is no escaping the fact that tonight it is fucking hot!

Jónsi and band were not brought up playing in heatwaves. On stage, sprays of cool mist help them survive the climatic challenge while we punters have to literally sweat it out for two hours. It is more than worth the minor discomfort for the privilege of seeing and hearing music as majestic and entrancing as theirs.

The first of many goosebumps moments in the set list came with Glósóli, one of four songs played from Takk and just one of their impressive back catalogue of moving and hypnotic songs.

Castello Estense, Ferrara

I saw Sigur Rós live for the first time last summer at the Perfect Day Festival in Verona soon after the release of a quiet ambient album, Valtari, a record singularly unsuited to being played to a large crowd who want to hear something more rousing.

The Ferrara show was different, and more satisfying, because the Icelandic band are now touring to promote Kveikur, a record that you can almost imagine being conceived with concert performances like this in mind.

Isjaki may just be their most chart friendly song yet and the crunching metal chords of Brennisteinn, and the title tune are great heard at high volume. Ísjaki is the most beautiful song on the record though, and the one which, played here, holds up best alongside the ‘greatest hits’ that you can also hear showcased on the double album Inni.

Jónsi’s note-holding trick from that live recording is repeated here to set up the joyous, celebratory part of Festival during which the screen behind bursts into a frenzy of digitalized firework effects. (Previously it had shown drifting abstract imagery depicting cornfields, glaciers, oceans and mountains).

Festival, together with Hoppípolis and Meo Bloosanir from Takk , are the band’s clap-along party favourites, a cue to release white balloons into the audience and prepare us ever so gently for the rapturous finale of  “Untitled #8 (aka “Popplagið/The Pop Song“)” (see yesterday’s blog entry) that ensured this particular paying guest left the arena hot but very happy.