I have been to the Eden Sessions several times, and I am yet to find a venue that is even close to equivocating its unusual blend of expansiveness and intimacy. By containing a spiritual atmosphere within an archetypal festival layout, the venue manages to brilliantly highlight the talent of its performers, but despite these predetermined high expectations, this year Sigur Ros still dumfounded their audience with two hours of complete, incorrigible, perfection, even if their support acts failed to set the ball running.
Opening the ‘main stage’, if you like, were a band named Dawn Chorus Ignites (there was a smaller stage inside one of the Biodomes, but unfortunately we couldn’t work out how to get into it, so after two minutes of trying we didn’t bother as apparently it was ‘really hot in there’). While undoubtedly providing a reasonable-albeit-sub-Sigur Ros symphony of atmospherics, the band suffered at their lack of a vocalist, with the entirely instrumental songs anonymously blending into each other as the audience scratched their heads in an attempt to work out exactly what was missing.
Following this were Mwahaha, a(nother) psychedelic, American (or Canadian, who knows?) band riding high upon Tame Impala’s recent wave of critical and commercial success. While the band’s ideas were undeniably decent, they were nonetheless marred by an unresponsive, and quite frankly baffled, audience, who seemed to view their lack of flow and glitch-filled intervals as “technical faults” as opposed to the “carefully executed nuances of experimentalism” they assumedly intended; a band misunderstood by everyone including themselves.
Willy Mason was the first of the more well-known acts to come on stage, having been recently hoisted from obscurity by way of his inexplicably Radio 1-endorsed snooze-single ‘Oxygen’. Dull, boring, uninspired, tiresome, humdrum, tedious, bothersome, it’s particularly hard to care about an artist when they actually seem to lack the motivation to even attempt to be engaging. He’ll be gone in a couple of years, you heard it here first.
Daughter were next to grace the stage, providing the night’s first real glimpse of talent and promise. While the band’s intricate delicateness was inhibited by its presence upon the xx-bandwagon, and the lead singer’s “airy-fairy” faux-nervousness played out like a manic-pixie-dream-girl nightmare, songs such as ‘Youth’ and ‘Candles’ displayed a intimacy that would penetrate even the harshest of cynics. Daughter are clearly a band that need to be given time to develop into a territory that is completely their own, but thus far, I can wholeheartedly say that the, usually misguided, hype the NME has propelled them with is entirely deserved.
Sigur Ros capped the night off with a career-spanning two hour set. As some of the song titles are mental (is that racist?) its hard to pick out highlights from memory, but tracks such as ‘Hoppipolla’, ‘Glosoli’, ‘Saegolpur’, and new single ‘Isjaki’ were performed in all their theatrical, anthemic, angelic, spiritual, <insert powerful hyperbole> beauty. Jonsi’s effeminate falsetto was immaculate to the point of inhumanity (he sang a single note for a minute straight during ‘Festival’), and the way in which a stage of about twenty people managed to create such a controlled symphony of noise throughout was genuinely impressive. Adding to the engagement was the lightshow and creepy visual backdrop upon the stage, providing an impressive counterpart to the band’s sense-heightening brilliance. With a band like Sigur Ros it would be easy to lose my dignity by banging on for thousands of words about how amazing they were like a brown-nosing fanboy, so I’ll save you the effort of feeling sorry for me and say this: you need to see this band at some point in your life, they have absolutely nailed the live show over the years, and represent an impossible-to-reach standard that all other bands should strive for. Amen.
p.s To the tall man with the big hair dancing in front of me to every song like we were at a David Guetta gig, and the guy attempting to sing along to Jonsi’s falsetto despite the lyrics existing in a MADE UP LANGUAGE and not being able to sing, I hope you both got shat on by birds on the way out.