I am even less at home writing about classical (neo-classical? pop classical? whatever) music than I am about guitars and drums and all that stuff. But I know magic when I hear it. I can't tell you about the arrangements or composition but I can tell you that this show felt incredible.
I had never watched an orchestra, or a sinfonia (here, the Britten Sinfonia), at close range but I was lucky enough to be in the second row (row C, curiously) at The Barbican for what was surely one of Ólafur's biggest shows to date. He always has had that kind of awkward, shy yet utterly charming character on-stage (the same as off stage actually) but it was pretty clear that this was a special night for him too with friends and family amongst the sold out audience in the main hall at The Barbican. He looked in awe as he walked on stage, I think his first words were, "This is insane".
The show was magical, the wonderful new album For Now I Am Winter was played in its entirity and almost without break. The set included the songs with vocals from Arnór Dan of Agent Fresco who was absolutely incredible here. That full album set was followed by two older tunes, the always welcome Near Light and the frankly always heart-shattering Lag fyrir ömmu (Song For Grandma) which was introduced by it's tearful composer.
As a whole the show was special and spell-binding. Special because it was clearly a very momentous occasion for a constant, key, popular and innovative member of the wonderful Icelandic music scene. It felt special sharing it with him and others fans of the scene. Spell-binding because, even in my busy city stressy life, everything was forgotten as these incredibly written and wonderfully performed songs kept on coming out from the stage, the time flew by. What a star, I love that this nice, shy guy makes these full songs that are so affecting.
Having seen Óli play in November at Airwaves and in February at Sonar, it was very nice to see him in London! I was going to end this with a 'come back soon' plea, but if you just click here, you will find that you can get tickets to see him back here in June. Yay!
There are a few videos on youtube. I'm not sure if they are official (I guess not), but the links are below: