Björk Guðmundsdóttir – vocals
Sigtryggur Baldursson – drums
Einar Örn Benediktsson – vocals, trumpet
Þór Eldon – guitar
Bragi Ólafsson – bass
Margrét Örnólfsdóttir – keyboards
Johnny Triumph – vocals
O.k., so I didn’t snap this particular picture from The Sugarcubes reunion concert that I went to see in Reykjavík this past weekend, but I need to represent the show with the best photo possible at first, before you move onto my pictures from my trip! Haha. I do think I got some good pictures, but since we (my friend Joe and I) weren’t sitting all that close to the stage, and because the security at the stadium took my much nicer camera until the show was over (and it’s ‘all important for this situation’ zoom lens), I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, but that o.k. It was more about the show obviously, and seeing my favorite band ever play a show for this one time only. The purpose was to raise money for the non-profit music label they have run for the past 20 years to promote Icelandic music, called Smekkleysa (Bad Taste). No price was too high to go see this, as I was quite a ‘Cube obsessive even before the phenomemon known as Bjork occurred, and to see them in their home country, and my favorite country to visit no less, it was truly special to me. It was a great trip and a memorable concert for all I am sure. So please take a few minutes to check out my pictures, if you are so inclined :
My pictures of The Sugarcubes
– Concert photos, show merchandise, band memorabilia, local newspaper coverage
My pictures of Reykjavík
– from a clear sub-arctic day, to blizzard conditions, from all over 101
My video clip of ‘Water’ performed by the ‘Cubes
– performed in Icelandic, and Einar speaking to the foreigners in the crowd.
My video clip of an Icelandic supermarket
– and ‘real live Icelanders in action!’ :)
Set list, more video clips, etc. are at the bottom of this post!
It was a pretty exciting show and experience really. With 5500 people at the show, 1000 of them had traveled to Iceland just to see it, so the small village of Reykjavík was basically invaded for this pilgrimage from the likes of France, America, Sweden, England, Germany and many others I’m sure. We all got to feel what this Icelandic woman sitting next to me on my return flight on Icelandair called ‘the coldest weekend I can remember in a long time’. It was very very cold, and although it was a cold that I have felt here in Boston before, it was the coldest I had ever felt in Iceland, this being my 6th visit. It was typically quiet in the city (although Reykjavík has it’s moments of pure chaos, natural and unnatural) , but there was an exiting energy in the air this time around with all the vistors in town, the buzz of the event, and the general feeling of pride that Icelanders clearly have for this band that helped put Iceland on the map just a bit more.
As for the show it really was fantastic, and the band truly sounded like they hadn’t missed a beat despite not having played in 14 years. They were much louder than I expected, with a full sound and a lot more depth than they have on record. One of my favorites, ‘Coldsweat’, was the standout song in my view, sounding the tightest of them all. Its pretty amazing to me they could have such a layered deep sound, despite the time having passed and the lack of real rehearsal time they had for this show. They were a tad rusty at the beginning, with Bjork’s voice even cracking during ‘Leash Called Love’, but it was smoothed over pretty fast, and they all seemed to be having a great time, and especially feeding off the crowd’s energy. Just a fun, surreal, memorable night. I will never forget it. Also opening were fellow Icelanders and Smekkleysa labelmates Rass (translates to English as ‘Ass’), who’s loud tight Icelandic punk meets Motorhead sound provided a great mix of music for the night. Not entirely my cup of tea, but no doubt they had a full sound that filled the room, and their songs were catchy and short, thus the 10 minute set. You can download one of the songs they played that night here. Also opening were múm, who were horrendous. People seemed to enjoy them, but Joe and I were able to see through their laughable attempt at being quirky. The women singing had horrible voices, and the entire band looked like the whole cast from Friends. Courtney Cox and Lisa Kudrow were on vocals, if you must know. Atrociously bad.
And as for Iceland, well, the smell of sulfur in the air was stronger than ever, my fingers were numb from taking pictures in this cold, and the combination of the weak American dollar and the simple fact that the most basic expenditures you need to survive are just beyond expensive in a country as pricey as Iceland (and thats putting it mildly), it all created an interesting environment. Of course there was also the group of midgets on my flights, the tour that led us out into the middle of nowhere until 1:00am on a bus full of silent strangers in pure darkness drinking cocoa served by someone you cant even see and made us doubt the actual existence of these so-called ‘northern lights’ (hehe), and then my second Icelandic blizzard experience that left about a foot to maybe a foot and a half of snow through Sunday morning, and the fact that the Sugarcubes did their press conference in this small club just 2 doors down from our hotel in the city centre. Well, that’s just Iceland, really!
20th Anniversary Reunion Concert
02 Leash Called Love
07 Shoot Him*
12 A Day Called Zero
15 Blue Eyed Pop
17 Delicious Demon
* Sung in Icelandic
** with Johnny Triumph and various band members’ children
Icelandic televsion recap of show here (in Icelandic).
Icelandic news interview of Einar Örn Benediktsson (vocals) and Sigtryggur Baldursson (drums) as doors open here (in Icelandic).
Iceland Review show recap here
The Guardian UK show review here.