Yesterday I went to see Ólafur Arnalds for a third time, which is beginning to creep towards the most-seen band total set by my current record holder 65daysofstatic. It was an enjoyable, moving evening of neo-classical music for the piano and strings which left me severely tempted by the additional date in July that Ólafur is performing.
It has been a little while since I saw Ólafur, possibly 2008, and I’ve not been as thrilled by his recent work as I was by the earlier albums. The gig, at the Tabernacle in London, turned out to have a very solid set list covering materials from all releases, even Dyad 1909 and Found Songs.
The Tabernacle itself was quite big compared to a lot of the venues I’m used to and is a well-converted church. The layout was a little unusual with small shops and even a reception where you had to get your hand stamped! The actual venue for the gig itself was also excellent with good sound and plenty of seats. A little bit of a negative was that the curfew for live music, even on a weekday, appeared to be 10 O’Clock. That’s some seriously impressive campaigning done by local residents! This didn’t affect the gig too much, although Ólafur was a little disgruntled at having to cut one song from the set list. Wanting to play to 10:10 doesn’t strike me as excessive and I appreciate that the venue doesn’t create the rules.. still: a word of warning.
A video from the actual performance. Thanks strider911!
The performance was brilliant. Ólafur’s show has got a little more impressive since I last saw him at a small dive (although no local residents making a fuss about noise) in Coventry. Flurescent lights surrounded the stage and blinked in time to some of the more glitchy electronic moments in songs such as Fok. The projector had the usual bird theme that Ólafur has employed for a while going on and it’s good to have a little bit of visual abstraction since a piano/string quartet combination is never huge on visual dynamics. It’s good to see that the personal touch has remained with little chats between setlists discussing the background to some songs. Too many artists who create quiet music tend to not engage with the audience at all and that’s a shame. There were also some of the trademark slipups as Ólafur accidently selected some demo tracks on the keyboard to play to us, which amused me as it reminded me of when he accidently started playing his itunes list from the tour bus to us last time.
The music and the audience were great. A talented performance from all involved. Whilst I’d have preferred a couple more songs from Eulogy that’s really just my personal preference since I find the more recent material a bit too Max Richter-esque. A very enjoyable evening that I hope to repeat soon.