Rökkurró European Tour
February 3, 2015
In possibly one of the worst venues I’ve ever been too—a dingy recess into industrial brick, with sticky floors, dirty, tiny stage and a grimy feel to every surface—I find Rökkurró. This is a far cry from their usual environs of bright, twinkling lights of the ultra modern Harpa, or the class of Iðnó. I don’t ever recall wrinkling my nose at the smell of stale urine in Harpa, come to think of it.
Rökkurró are coming to the end of a mammoth three-week European tour, which has been very well received. Occasionally meeting up with Low Roar, and playing to huge audiences in France, it must be difficult to arrive at this place with the same sense of enthusiasm. I bump into Helga before they go on stage “it’s ups and downs, you know,” she says, “It’s been a great tour; no one’s killed anyone yet.”
First on is a twenty-something male wearing a butterfly face mask who struggles with his own loops whilst awkwardly clutching a guitar. It’s an odd sight at best. Rökkurró eventually take the stage at 10 pm. The audience are dotted around, still somewhat perplexed by what they have just seen. The band arrive without fanfare, squeeze all six of themselves onto the cramped stage (the drummer is virtually in another room), have a few minor technical difficulties, and then start playing. It’s worth the wait.
Rökkurró transport us somewhere else. They fill the damp space with warmth and wonder. Starting with ‘Weightless,’ Hildur uses her falsetto vocals to full effect, grabbing attention and cutting through everything going on around her. Helga harmonizes with her throughout the set, no where better than on ‘Sólin mun Skína.’ In fact, I’d forgotten what a great album Í Annan Heim was, in all the energy and synths of Innra.
Innra songs dominate the set though. We are treated to ‘The Backbone,’ ‘Killing Time’ and ‘Blue Skies,’ but oddly the striking ‘Hunger’ is missing. They close with a beautiful, opulent version of ‘Svanur.’ It’s a delicate and pretty affair, with an emotive piano piece that sounds like it has been cut from a film soundtrack. Some might say this is a strange song to close a set; I think it was just perfect.
I keep an eye on the audience. Once aloof, cold and nonplussed, Rökkurró have worked their magic. They are physically drawn closer to the stage, wanting to be part of the intimate, warm world that the band have created, rather than their dark, dank surroundings.
Edward Hancox lives in in the United Kingdom with his wife and two small, noisy children but spends as much time as he can in Iceland. Music—especially contemporary Icelandic music—is his other passion. He writes about both subjects for Iceland Review and in his debut book, Iceland, Defrosted. He does not consider himself an expert on anything.