Category Archives: film

Sigur Ròs – INNI

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.

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PJ20

In a previous post I mentioned a teenage love of Pearl Jam. I was such a grunger in the early to mid 90’s that my group of friends at school were labelled ‘Grunge Club’. It was barely an insult, in fact I liked it, it seperated us from the people we despised or ‘Ravers’ as we used to call them. I was proud to be a grunger and I had the long hair and doc martens boots to prove it.

Pearl Jam were very much a part of this. Back in the day I was glued to MTV, which in those days stood for music television, they played music videos all the time and the videos for ‘Alive’ and ‘Even Flow’ used to be on heavy rotation on the channel. Then one day I came home and my brother had very kindly recorded the Pearl Jam MTV Unplugged for me. From the moment it begun I could see that this band were about to become very important to me. They were playing an acoustic set but it was electrifying to watch. The songs didn’t lose anything by being stripped down, in fact by being played in this way you could understand just how brilliant they were. I was sold. Pearl Jam, along with Nirvana and a host of other bands, became all my friends and I would talk about. Our deputy headmaster even gave us our own room at school where we could all hang out at lunch to talk about and listen to music we were so obsessed. Hence the nickname ‘Grunge Club’.

It seems so long ago now, 20 years in fact since Pearl Jam formed. And to celebrate comes the release of the documentary film ‘PJ20’. Made by former music journo/major film director Cameron Crowe, the film documents Pearl Jam’s entire career from the early days of Green River and Mother Love Bone right up to the present day. Sometimes, when you read a book or see a programme about a band you’ve liked for a long time you’re put off by the amount of stuff you’ve already seen but that’s not the case here. From the start there is a ton of amazing footage you will have never seen before. It’s incredible just how much there is of the early years, especially before the band formed including priceless footage of Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament goofing round Seattle in the mid 80’s. The film is at it’s best with this early footage, taking you from the emotional and tragic end of Mother Love Bone, through Temple of the dog and to the start of Pearl Jam. It makes you realise what a short amount of time there was between the band forming and finding success. Eddie Vedder seemed to arrive in Seattle and days later the band had classic songs that they still play to this day. Shots of their second live show are testament to this as it shows them playing a near fully formed ‘Alive’. Things obviously took off incredibly fast for them and several other bands from Seattle. It’s amazing to think of how one scene from one city could change the face of rock music. Pearl Jam had to learn as they went along, the first big lesson as they explain was how to say “no”. This is illustrated with the bizarre and hilarious footage from the ‘Singles’ launch party, that shows Eddie Vedder to somewhat lose control. Having not seen any of this before it was amazing to see the band in a different light. The film goes on to show how the band evolved, taking control of what happened to them, taking on Ticketmaster and on to the tragedy at Roskilde that could’ve ended Pearl Jam. Cameron Crowe doesn’t use each album as chapters to tell the story instead relying on the major changing points in their history. I think this works really well to stop the film becoming a predictable, run of the mill documentary. Although the film does start to dip about two thirds of the way through. At one point it feels like it doubles back on itself by going into how some of the members met and grew up when the film already seemed a long way from this point. The dip coincides for me as to where my love for the band died down. Pearl Jam helped to introduce me to alternative music which would then turn me on to underground, independent punk rock and so on, so it was only natural that my obsession with this one band would fade. The film does keep you interested right to the end, however. It’s comforting to see Eddie writing setlist’s for shows minutes before they go out onstage, showing you that nothings changed and the band still have the same morals that made them a great band in the first place.

Apart from seeing most of Pearl Jam as Neil Young’s backing band at Reading festival 1995, it pains me to say the only time I’ve seen them play was at Wembley Arena on the No Code tour in 1996. It pains me because we had seated tickets at the very back! I wish I could’ve seen them play up close, the film has so much live footage from throughout their career it gives me regrets. Although, I do remember that even though it was a struggle to see them from the back they still had me captivated. There may have been a tear or two while they played ‘Animal’, tears of joy obviously. That night my friend Gee and I missed the last train home, but spent the time sat outside London Victoria station waiting to be picked up recalling all 25 songs they played, trying to put them in the set order. It certainly gave us comfort, which is just what two 16 year old, out of town boys needed because we were proper scared sat there at 2am.

PJ20 confirms and reaffirms what you knew all along, that Eddie Vedder is exactly the perfect ‘rock star’ you always knew him to be. He cares. He always puts the music and the fans first because he knows what really matters. He understands its important to get things right for everyone. Seeing him sat being interviewed on ‘Headbangers Ball’ with Fugazi written in pen on his arm reminds you that although he became a world famous front man he has never lost that independent mindset and his voice is one of the most memorable and mind blowing in music history. Why else would it have been copied so much if it wasn’t. Even Kurt knew he was a great guy, one of the films definite highlights is seeing the touching video of the Kurt and Eddie slow dancing backstage at the MTV video music awards. Pearl Jam will always hold a special place in my heart and this film is a great reminder of that. I said on this very blog a few weeks ago that nostalgia is bullshit, and it is, but there is nothing wrong in sitting for 2 hours watching a film about a band you used to love. Especially when the film is as brilliantly well made as this. If you ever liked Pearl Jam, grunge, music or the 90’s then I’d recommend very highly that you watch PJ20.
Cheers x

click here for the trailer!!!

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