Beauty is: Sigur Ros headlining Pet Sounds at Oxegen; blew everything else away
Headlining the Pet Sounds Stage and seeing the festival out in the best way possible. Why, it was only the other week that I was at the O2 Wireless sitting around backstage after David Gray had finished, discussing the slight void left after his performance and what would be the perfect ender to the night; Sigur Ros was certainly the answer. And here was the dream come true. Over on the main was the Chili Peppers ripping through their back catalogue of stale soundalikes and elsewhere there were a few good gigs going, Rodrigo y Gabriela namely, and Paul Weller, but here was where it was at, without a shadow of a doubt.
Jaw-dropping stuff. The show began behind a veil onto which projections were shone and the elongated silhouettes of the band members could be seen, through a trick of the lights. The glory of the sound emanating from the stage was just unparalleled, modern music that's able to reach the bits of you only Rachmaninov, Barber and Elgar could touch before. Huge glorious soundscapes caked in a delicious swelling of aural amazement, draped in a shawl of pure sonic beauty, nothing comes close to Sigur Ros on the international scale for producing the kind of mood they do.
Yes, it was thanks to the BBC that they were shot to a new level of fame and now have love and support coming from everywhere (the unlikely We Are Scientists have covered Hoppipolla for example), and yes, a few people did filter out after the single was played, but they were philistines and those that stayed, well, they probably couldn't move from the spot they were in, being glued to the awesome spectacle in front of us all, I know I had to physically shut my gaping jaw once or twice.
The veil came down and they went through a few numbers from their various records, each song as epic and encapsulating as the last, Jon Birgisson playing his guitar with a bow and making the most sensual, evocative and haunting sound with it, much more than Jimmy Page could achieve, and his vocals sounding like the ghost of the greatest singer of all the sirens of the enchanting island in ancient Greece, downright beautiful.
The cover went back up for the last song which was the last untitled track from 2002's ( ), it was a brilliant 15 minutes of extraordinary musical prowess that no one in their right mind would ever think of contending with. Sigur Ros proved themselves to the most unique and inspiring band on the bill at Oxegen and maybe in the world, the set was nothing short of true genius, art and real beauty.
Good stuff seems to come out of Iceland and this one band are no exception, they have shaped music in a way that is almost incomprehensibly different from everything else around at the moment, or that's ever been around for that matter, and they do it with style and panache and not the slightest hint of pretension. The set at Oxegen was a performance impossible to forget, they well deserved every round of applause they got when the whole came back and bowed at the end. That's the way to put on a show, truly beautiful...