With only a bit more than 300.000 inhabitants, Iceland is quite a small country. When it comes to popular music however, they have had quite a few big names over the years, for example Björk and Sigur Rós. Recently singer-songwriter Ásgeir has become the pride of the Icelandic people with an amazingly successful debut album called Dýrð í dauðaþögn. It was certified triple platinum, is the most successful debut album of the country ever and some people even believe it is owned by 1 in 10 people in Iceland. Needless to say this title was not very marketable for the rest of the world so Ásgeir Trausti and his team decided to translate the lyrics to English and release the record as In The Silence.
To celebrate his international success after years of touring through Europe, Ásgeir returned to his home country with two concerts on one evening in the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, coinciding with a national holiday in the country. This at the same time meant that he only performed his songs in Icelandic and not in English, something he apologizes for in English. I was there as one of the few non Icelandic people and I will convince you guys that seeing a concert of Ásgeir in Iceland is absolutely a special experience! Here are five reasons!
1. Experiencing a concert in another country is always special
It is always special to go to a concert in another country, because the vibe is different everywhere. Different people react in different manners to music. This is all the more interesting when it concerns a national hero, like Ásgeir is in Iceland. Harpa, the venue he played, is like a theater with chairs, and you could feel the excitement go through the room whenever he started playing one of his most successful songs. It is great to see how the audience around me knew every word. At the end of the show he received a standing ovation that was truly sincere. After observing the audience, I can conclude that Ásgeir appeals to every age group and social group in Iceland and it is a great experience to be part of that for one night.
2. Ásgeir’s music transcends language barriers
Ásgeir apologized to his international fans for the fact he only performed in Icelandic in Harpa, but I can’t imagine anyone was bothered by this fact, as Ásgeir’s music is so rich in emotions, you don’t need language to understand what the songs are about. Even if you don’t feel this, assuming you visit the concert voluntarily, you have heard at least the English versions of the tracks, so you already know what they are about. But I have to say, Ásgeir’s voice might sound even more convincing in Icelandic. He has an unusual vocal style with a quite high register for a male vocalist and this matches the somewhat mystic Icelandic language perfectly.
3. Hearing his best songs live is an experience
Ásgeir’s album contains a mix of singer-songwriter acoustic folk and electronic, experimental sounds. This characteristic genre makes him stand out from anyone else out there in the music industry. The mystic atmosphere of his music is strengthened by some background visuals of Icelandic scenes. Ásgeir was surrounded by a band containing of keyboard, drums, guitars, violins and horns. With all these instruments, the songs had an even stronger character live. The beautiful ‘Heimförin’ (‘Going Home’) sends shivers down your spine played live and ‘Leyndarmál’ (‘King And Cross’) swings even more. ‘Hljóða nótt’ (‘Was There Nothing’) is a beautiful moment of serenity during the set and the bombastic ‘Nýfallið regn’ (‘Torrent’) is the perfect ending of the night.
4. You can play the ‘guess the song’ game
When you are, like me, used to the English version of Ásgeir’s album, you can play a little guess game with yourself when the Icelandic versions are being played in front of you. You can test your own knowledge of his music. Do you immediately recognize the melody or maybe some of the Icelandic lyrics that sound like the English translation?
5. It is a good excuse to go to Iceland for a trip
Above all, an Ásgeir concert is the perfect addition to a trip to Iceland, that will no doubt be something you will remember for the rest of your life. I only stayed for four days in the country, but with a jeep and tons of excitement, we saw a lot of the country and enjoyed the beautiful waterfalls, the impressive vulcanos, the geothermal activity and the relaxing hot springs. This is a country you should see at least once in your life and if you are a music fan, there is no better way than to combine your trip with a concert of the Icelandic musical hero. Takk Ásgeir, takk Ísland.