Tuesday night is show night in Montreal, with the Icelandic singer-songwriter, Ásgeir. The show took place in Corona Theatre, one of the beautiful old-style theatres in the Little Burgundy area. Filled with red curtains and ornate designs, it is a concert hall that is reminiscent of another time. An ideal scenario for the magical music of Ásgeir.
Ásgeir launched his career in 2012 with the release of his first album, “Dýrð í dauðaþögn” in Icelandic, which made its way through the airwaves and into international ears, spiraling his career as one of Iceland’s musical treasures. The album was later on released in English, under the name of “In Silence”, pleasing his native and international audience. This year Ásgeir released his sophomore album, “Afterglow”. His latest album is the source material for his tour, and his show in Montreal.
The opener of the evening was Tusks, comprised by the UK and London native, Emily Underhill. Tusks, a great pairing for the evening’s headliner, brought in an electronic, ambient/indie-pop mix to kick off the show and get us excited for the headliner.
Ásgeir, or, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson, is a native Icelander, aka the land of surreal natural landscapes and probably the best source of inspiration a musician can ask for. The influences of his homeland are clear in his music, as his lyrics, detailed and pensive, are filled with metaphors about his natural surroundings. His latest album, “Afterglow”, with its overlapping falsettos and harmonies, heavy synth and silent but predominant piano use reminds me, in part, of a more pop version of Bon Iver’s latest album mixed with some James Blake.
The night had a slow and subtle start, with a new and an old song, “Fennir Yvir” and “Hærra”, the latter which is the original Icelandic version of his song “Higher”. I was expecting to only hear the English version of his songs, so listening to a song in its original foreign tongue was refreshing. Of course I have no idea what he was singing about but anything in Icelandic is riveting.
Throughout his set he showed a quiet demeanor, focused on the music, and not at all in creating much of a performance for the crowd. The singer-songwriter did not address the audience until halfway through the set, at which point I thought to myself “HE SPEAKS!”. Ásgeir quickly thanked his audience for being there, and then got on with the set. After his quick remark, the show took a step towards more energy, still low energy, but at least some more energy. He played songs like, “Afterglow”, the title track of his new album, “I Know You Know” and “Unbound”, all from his newest album. “King and Cross” was an unsurprising crowd favorite. As the first hints of the song made their way to the audience’s ears, people erupted in cheers and excitement in anticipation for the singer’s most popular song. After his set was over, he was cheered back on stage for the classic Encore, where he played one of the more energetic songs of his new album, “Stardust”.
Overall the performance was somewhat distant and uneventful. Even though his angelic voice, harmonies, and musical talent speaks for itself, there was still a lack of showmanship that stopped the show from being more than what it was: a relaxed Tuesday night show that while enjoyable, could be easily forgettable. The kid’s still got loads of talent, so I’m sure there’s still more to see from him in the future.