If you read my last post you’ll know how excited I’ve been getting about the Fugazi live series, but there has been another ‘live’ release in recent weeks that is worth getting excited about. An altogether very different release to the Fugazi one.
Sigur Rós have released ‘Inni’. ‘Inni’ is one part concert film, two parts live album which was recorded over two nights at the Alexandra Palace in London back in November 2008. I, along with my sister in law Rachel, was lucky enough to have attended the 2nd of the two nights. So I feel in some way that this is a gift for us from the band, but it’s obviously so much more.
Sigur Ròs are a very special band. A band that have never compromised their vision of how they want to sound. Their music is unique and beautiful, they make movies in your mind every time you listen. Even the overuse of their music as background to numerous tv shows and adverts hasn’t taken anything away from them. On record they sound so ethereal and other worldly that it’s hard to imagine them playing the songs live without feeling that something will be lost in the transition. And the fact that it doesn’t is part of the reason that seeing them live is indeed very special.
The other part is that they have thought every last detail of their performance through. Their show is part theatre, part art installation and part rock show. Even the choice of venue seemed to play a part in the experience. Alexandra Palace isn’t the kind of venue that would suit any band. I have a very good friend who hated seeing the White Stripes there. But it worked with Sigur Ròs. Everything from the drive up the long, winding hill that overlooks London to seeing the shadows of the band shooting up the large Walls at the side added to the evening.
The set gave the show it’s theatrical feel. A huge sheet hung at the back of the stage which at various points would have images of the band playing mixed with films and then when backlit would reveal 7 large floating orbs which would then at various points have things projected on. There was also a real waterfall, ticker tape showers and a snow storm.
The film itself is also very unique. Unless you were there live concert films can sometimes feel a bit unnecessary, but Sigur Ròs being Sigur Ròs have produced something different. The show was filmed from a number of various angles on HD. This was then transferred to 16mm film and projected onto a big screen which was then itself filmed, then filmed again sometimes through prisms and other objects. The whole of the live footage is also in black and white. This gives the film a mysterious atmosphere and an old fashioned look. The process combined with how the band look makes the film look like footage of people from the turn of the 20th century. The way really old film made people seem a lot different to us now, with jerky movements and serious faces.
The fact, as well, that the footage or, even, sound of the audience in attendance is very limited sets this apart from a conventional live film. Usually if a band puts out a live DVD then it’s all about the crowd and how they react. On this you barely see the audience apart from some footage of some of the crowd looking at the stage after Sigur Ròs have finished. Each song is also broken up with unrelated footage of the band at various stages in their career, playing live or being interviewed or just hanging out which serves nicely to break up the show and keep your interest going to the end.
The accompanying two disc live album gives you more of the songs they played and is recorded perfectly. This could be served as a kind of greatest hits as the track list does span the bands career. I don’t think the live album works as well as the film but if you are already a big fan then it’s certainly worth checking out.
The film is a must though. The thrill of seeing the four members come together at the start of ‘Sæglópur’, a song that never fails to make the hair on the back of my neck stand tall, to then see them break away and a sheet of water pour from the ceiling when the heavy bit comes in is amazing. The way ‘Inni’ is filmed and presented is clever and makes it watchable time and again. Seeing little details like Jónsi thrashing his guitar with a violin bow and then singing into his guitar pick up for a different effect during ‘Svefn-g-englar’ is also a great joy.
There are parts of the show that I remember really enjoying that are only glimpsed at, like when they were joined onstage by the brilliant support band ‘For a minor reflection’ who added drums to ‘Gobbledigook’. It would have been nice to have had that properly included but that’s just a minor gripe on my part.
But one of the big highlights that I always think of when I remember the show is in the film right at the end. For a show that had already featured so much it was hard to imagine how they would end it. ‘Lúppulagid’ is a haunting song that seems to build up forever, as the song nears it’s conclusion a barrage of White ticker tape is unleashed powered on by strong fans making it seem like an almighty snow storm. Seeing the band struggle against the wind combined with the dramatic end to the song is something that will stay with me for a long time.
If you’ve already seen the film, let me know what you thought of it. Cheers, as always, for reading. xx
Click HERE to view the trailer for INNI.