Jónsi

Jónsi at the Fox Theater, Pomona, CA, October 18th, 2010

Oct 20, 2010 Photography by David Studarus Web Exclusive
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Jónsi is an extraordinary performer. A rare musician who not only plays his songs but also lives them out note for note on stage, seeing him live is an incredibly captivating experience—even when he’s standing still, eyes clenched shut, guitar in hand. And if this sounds like the bias ranting of an uber fan…well, it is.

At least I was in good company. Currently on his final U.S. tour in support of his superior solo album Go, the Sigur Rós leadman has inspired a devoted following—with good reason. His live shows are a combination of unforced intimacy (during guitar-and-voice opener “Stars in Still Water” the preverbal pin could have been heard dropping), moments of larger than life theatrics, and dramatic visual/audio reinterpretations. Filling out his sound was a five-member band that included boyfriend/collaborator Alex Somers and a crown-wearing, Finnish drummer whose sole purpose in life is to hit things. Hard. 

The extensive visuals played like a band member—adding to the scene but never stealing the spotlight. A stunning set designed by Fifty Nine Productions, the images drew on the death and rebirth of a forest as a host of flora, fauna, and flames danced and morphed in time to the music. The result was a visceral mix of the ethereal and macabre, making the already tactile music even more affecting.

Had one closed their eyes (which—admittedly—would have been difficult given the visual intensity each band member brought to his performance), the show would have easily been carried by the strength of the music. With the orchestral accompaniment that the album versions heavily leaned on, every song was reworked for the stage without loosing any of their widescreen ambitions. “Tornado” began as interplay between the piano and Jónsi’s ridiculous falsetto, before thundering into a pounding closing (much to—one assumes—the drummer’s glee). “Animal Arithmetic” was augmented by numerous vocal layers. What could have been a transgression in a less skilled musician’s hands, after building up a racket that border-lined on sine waves, he skillfully pulled back, ending the song with just his vocals—a neat trick in a night filled with clever flourishes.

Guiding us though the peaks and valleys of the performance, the band saved the most remarkable moment for last. Encore closer “Grow Till Tall” began with Jónsi solo at the piano and evolved (devolved?) into a stunning deconstruction, the band raising an incredible cacophony amidst building lightening. Leaving his piano, Jónsi took center stage; movement and costume looking more broken-down marionette than man. A magical feat of transformation, it can safely be said that Jónsi left everything he had on stage, as both audience and performer alike were swept away.

See the full gallery of photos here.

(www.jonsi.com)




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Nico
October 22nd 2010
10:52pm

Splendid! :)

Josue
November 29th 2010
11:22am

I heard he’s a great performer!
i love his music back to Sigur Ros
haha the setlist made me laugh