Brian Cheung
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Northbound

Thoughts, photos and anecdotes from my travels through Norway, Scotland and Finland.

An Evening With...

Glasgow has been lovely. I didn't expect it to be so much bigger than Edinburgh but the place does feel a bit more urban/bustling, with a little less of that Hogwarts vibe. Maybe because I'm living right in the city centre and not in some typical touristy Old Town part of the city.

I've caught up with a few friends, and it's been lovely to see familiar faces and be forced to reflect on the last few months of madness. The main reason of course for being in Glasgow was to see my all-time, absolute, ride-or-die favourite band Sigur Rós. To say I'm a fan is an understatement, and I do think some of the blame for my current cycle of travelling/residencies can be pinpointed to when I saw their achingly beautiful doco Heima, which documented a summer tour through various parts of Iceland in the mid 00s. Seeing the Icelandic wilderness soundtracked to Sigur Rós lit a fire in me to see the country. That led to my first trip to Iceland, which then led to my first residency in Iceland a few years later, and then onto all the other residencies to follow. 

Sitting in the auditorium I realised it was my 5th time seeing the band (6 if you include a Jónsi solo show) in 9 years, so pretty good innings so far! My enthusiasm might go a bit dormant in between albums, but seeing them live just reminds me of why I am so thoroughly in love with what they do. 

The show was divided into two hour-long sets with an interval in between, and the setlist ran the gamut of their back catalogue (minus the always-forgotten debut Von). There were also four new songs sprinkled throughout, and hearing three of those for the first time brought back memories of seeing them for the first time as a nerdy 17 year old who didn't quite knowing what he was getting himself into. I was impressed that they actually managed to pull off half of (), which I listen to constantly but is maybe a more difficult albums to digest. It was a gutsy move to whip out Dauðalagið especially, or as I like to think of it, the 13 minute banger that's guaranteed to send Mish to sleep when I try to play it in the car.

The stage design, lighting and projections were huge and immersive, and made the whole thing a real Production. It really added to every climactic ending to a song when the entire stage exploded with strobes and threw a literal wave of sound and light crashing into the audience, as if just listening to them live wasn't emotionally exhausting enough on its own. 

Every live show will always end the same way with the rousing and overwhelming Popplagið. I can't help but feel a bit melancholy when those first chords ring out, knowing that it signals the beginning of the end. In a way it's a similar feeling to watching the last episode on a regular Game of Thrones season and realising you're about to start a year-long wait for the next season. However I do feel really lucky that my favourite band also happens to be alive and well at the same time as me, and that I get to look forward to more music and more gigs in the future. It would be a different story if I felt this way about, say, the Beatles. 

Anyway, I've had my fill of starry-eyed gushing for tonight. I get a surge of so many emotions every time I go to a Sigur Rós gig, but I don't think I'll ever be able to feel disappointed by them. Takk fyrir, as always. Looking forward to the next one.

scotlandBrian Cheung