Live Review: Jónsi with Mountain Man at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 9th November 2010

By on Monday, 15th November 2010 at 2:00 pm

In all my years of going to gigs, I don’t think a live show has ever been more heavily recommended to me than Jónsi‘s. As his tour hit cities across America, my friends would come back and tell me how unbelievable it was, and  many of them described it as life-changing. I’m delighted to say that the Sigur Rós frontman’s show, the second of two he played in the Nation’s Capital,  more than lived up to my expectations. The music was both hauntingly beautiful and inspiringly imaginative. Combining his extraordinary music with gorgeous back-projections (courtesy of 59 Productions) and carefully choreographed lights, it truly was an all-enveloping feast for the senses.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First up, with a stage show that couldn’t be more different, was the trio Mountain Man. Where Jónsi’s set was sensory overload (in the best possible way), Mountain Man was just three women — Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath — stood on stage singing gorgeous, a capella 3-part harmony. If they were feeling fancy, they might even bring out an acoustic guitar. While incredibly simple, their sound is very unique. It is very folksy, but has touches of 1940s-style close vocal harmony. Think of Fleet Foxes mixed with the Puppini Sisters and you’ll get an idea of what I mean. They were well-suited for Jónsi’s audience, who stayed more silent during their songs than I think I’ve ever heard for an opener.

With so little to clear off the stage, the night moved swiftly along to Jónsi’s mind-blowing set. One of the best things about music, and indeed about art in general, is its ability to stir up emotions. In complete awe of the spectacle in front of me, I was at once moved close to tears and made so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling. In fact, days after the gig, I still can’t help getting a stupid grin on my face when I think about it. There is nothing more beautiful in the world than somebody using all of their creativity and talents to express their inner self, reveling in every quirk. And this is exactly what Jónsi does. You get the feeling he turns himself completely inside-out and bares his soul to the audience. Because of this, the gig felt very intimate, even though he rarely spoke to or interacted with the audience. He was mysterious, but not aloof.

Throughout, as on the album ‘Go,’ Jónsi’s characteristic falsetto soars over pounding drums, tinkling bells and strange sounds, expressing a sort of child-like wonder. This makes the costumes even more fitting, as they remind me of children playing dress up. He wore pinstriped pants with a patched, fringed shirt adorned with sequins and feathers. He even put on a feather headdress for the encore. When you combine all of this with the fog and lighting, you get the feeling you’ve walked into a forest glade and stumbled upon a group of woodland fairies — there is truly something magical about it all. If I had to say only one thing about Jónsi’s show, it would be that it’s beautiful — so much so that it makes me feel better about the world just knowing that there is something this beautiful in it. So I urge you to go out and experience the wonder of a Jónsi show for yourself — it’s not something to be missed.

Mountain Man Photos:

Jónsi Set List:
Stars In Still Water
Icicle Sleeves
Sinking Friendships
Saint Naive
Go Do
Boy Lilikoi
Piano Des
Animal Arithmetic
New Piano Song
Around Us
Sticks and Stones
Grow Till Tall

Jónsi Photos:

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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