Last Night: Jonsi At Verizon Wireless Theater


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Make no mistake, this was not a Sigur Ros show. Gone were the overtly ethereal melodies that made Sigur Ros what they were and are. No longer will you find the purposefully abstruse musical arrangements found on some of Sigur Ros's best records. Jonsi sings simplicity, and whereas Sigur Ros largely made art for the sake of something artful; Jonsi seems to mostly write songs that he knows his audience will digest as something personal.

The night worked as a kind of narrative of exaltation, beginning slowly in theme and tone with "Stars in Still Water" and "Hengilás," a song so devilishly somber that it can't not be listened to at night; it's meant for darkness, like a mole. As the set continued, "Kolniður" kept it moving into what we could expect later - almost invisible drums that seem to reverberate out of nowhere.

It's one of those songs where voice becomes instrument, instrument becomes voice, disorienting the listener just enough to make us a little crazy. And then "Tornado," easily one of the most gorgeously arranged songs Jonsi or Sigur Ros has ever done, came right before "Sinking Friendships," acting as the double-sided arc that ended up helping us make sense of where we were (i.e. inside a tale of timelessness), only to give way for something seemingly impossible: Three songs, all equally perfect.

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"Go Do," "Boy Lilikoi" and "Animal Arithmetic" each turned out to be that much better than the one that came before, while at the same time capable of being better than the rest if they were otherwise arranged. Jonsi understands something none of the rest of possibly can - how to use language and sound to force people into a state of perpetual joy without even trying, and without even seeming to think there's a way not to.

No one else can do what he does, and that was abundantly clear in how the audience reacted to the final three songs of the night: "Around Us" and the encore of "Sticks and Stones," and "Grow Till Tall." It was weirdly church-like (if churches allowed cell phones), with people regularly holding their arms wide and looking up, with eyes closed.

Deify the deifiable, worship the worthy; this is what music can and should make us do. Jonsi made us all believe in something Wednesday night. And it'll probably never happen again, at least not for the first time. Cherish it.

Personal Bias: Someone at Aftermath dated someone not at Aftermath only because she had a Sigur Ros tattoo--not telling who.

The Crowd: Smallish yet entranced. No lines for bathrooms, no lines for beer. Because no one wanted to move. Ever.

Overheard in the Crowd: "What did he just say?" Over and over and over and over...

Random Notebook Dump: Compared to everything else in the history of the universe, this is better.

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SET LIST

Stars in Still Water
Hengilás
Icicle Sleeves
Kolniður
Vibraphone Song
Tornado
Sinking Friendships
Saint Naïve
Go Do
Boy Lilikoi
Animal Arithmetic
New Piano Song
Around Us

ENCORE

Sticks & Stones
Grow Till Tall

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