It came as a sad reminder that this time last year I was preparing to leave for the Iceland Airwaves festival in Reykjavik. This year it has been cancelled, along with all but one other festival to the best of my knowledge and the way things are going I’m not even sure about next year.
But there is a two day live-streamed ‘replacement’ coming up as we’ve mentioned previously, namely ‘Live from Reykjavik’ on 13/14 November (see https://icelandairwaves.is/live/).
One of the bands on my ‘must see’ list last year, and as it happened they were virtually the first I did see, is Sykur, a band I first came across six or seven years ago but which rarely plays outside Iceland. The electro-pop power they can generate, and especially the vocal volume of singer Agnes Björt Andradóttir, is staggering. So good, in fact, to merit a visit to two separate shows.
Sykur has been pretty quiet for some time but then again they all have other jobs or are students. They left it eight years between the EP ‘Mesópótamia’ which made their name, and last year’s debut album ‘JÁTAKK’ which was premiered at Iceland Airwaves 2019 and they hadn’t performed since then, either.
Now, right out of the blue and in typical Icelandic style, they’ve turned up with a recording of a couple of songs played live at Harpa, Reykjavik’s huge concert hall.
I’m not sure if this stream is somehow part of Live from Reykjavik. It is billed as such on the YouTube video as an off-venue performance which means that it isn’t part of the official programme. Iceland Airwaves is notable for off-venue and ‘off-off venue’ shows.
The two songs here are ‘Svefneyjar’ and ‘Lost Song’, so named because it had been lost on the band’s hard discs, for almost 15 years. Apart from Agnes the other band members are Halldór Eldjárn on the drums (he’s a computer scientist by profession and usually plays synths), his brother Kristján who seems to be playing bass here, again he’s usually a synth wiz, and guitarist Stefán Finnbogason, who was missing last year apparently on account of his studies abroad. Halldór was scheduled to play a solo set at Iceland Airwaves this year having released a solo album ‘Poco Apollo’ in October.
This performance is quite sedate for Sykur, I suppose they’re getting on a bit now and the teenage energy might have dissipated somewhat (only joking guys) but it does give a flavour of what they are about.
Agnes seems to have dressed down a little too. If memory serves me correctly she is both a clothes designer and a model and the main picture here is of how she was dressed at their show at Gamla Bíó last year, a converted cinema in downtown Reykjavik, in an exotic outfit and what looked like prize carrots for hair. She typically wears huge platform boots as well, making her about 7ft tall (she’s 6ft or more to start with).
It’s good to see them back and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of them in the future. If they could make their way back to the UK for a show or two when they can that would be just dandy.