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That dynamic push-and-pull marked the show's sequencing, and the concert had the pacing and arc of a well-choreographed play. Peaks of rave-like noise, tempo and lights - the one-two punch of a galloping "Go Do" and heavy, drum-n-bass-influenced "Boy Lilikoi" - alternated with somber moments where Jónsi's singing soared and filled the venue. It's been said before, but his voice is an astounding, pristine instrument. He stirs up welling emotions no matter what he's singing -- perhaps because he's attuned to the primal frequency of the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Joy and sadness, happiness and melancholy, beauty and noise - the extremes co-exist in harmony within his voice.
For the encore, Jónsi added a feathered headdress to his jacket. The beat-driven noise hinted at during the main set came to fruition on "Grow Till Tall," which evolved from a soft-glow orchestral mourning into a ritualistic raindance. Jónsi doubled over and staggered around the stage -- a shadowy hunchback enveloped by blinding strobes, drums pounding like sheets of rain and deafening noise. The result was a realistic thunderstorm, nature's fury replicated on the Pageant's stage. What was left after the sensory overload ended was mental lightness, palpable relief and pure joy -- the sense that something very special had transpired.
Critic's Notebook: Kudos to most of the attendees at the Pageant, for being quiet and attentive. Seriously, it was so quiet you could hear a toilet flush in between songs. Probably the most respectful crowd I've seen at the venue in ages.
The crowd gave Jónsi and his band a standing ovation when they returned to take a bow at the end of the night. Haven't seen that in awhile, either.
The band bios for this current tour are painfully cute. Read 'em and smile:
The sonic extremes really stood out, but it's a testament to the talents of Jónsi and his band that they fit together. Last night, he ended the main set by kneeling on the stage digitally manipulating vocals so he sounded like a robot on the fritz. At the other end of the spectrum, he sang stark, a cappella lyrics to cap off "Tornado."
Setlist (did I miss anything?) "Stars in Still Water" "Hengilás" "Icicle Sleeves" "Kolniður" "Tornado" "Sinking Friendships" "Saint Naïve" "Go Do" "Boy Lilikoi" "Animal Arithmetic" new piano song "Around Us"
Encore: "Sticks & Stones" "Grow Till Tall"
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