Svavar Knútur, singer of Icelandic folk-outfit Hraun, toured Germany a few weeks ago. It was his second visit this year after touring under the Norðrið moniker this spring with Sprengjuhöllin and Dísa. This second sting was a solo tour, so he stuck mostly to playing smaller bars and clubs. This did him very well, as the concerts were generally attended by about 50 people. The rooms were thus packed, though the atmosphere was still intimate.
The concerts were intimate sessions where folks gathered around the singer-slash-storyteller, who for most of the tour wound up amongst his audience talking, listening or even playing guitar and singing with them after the show.
Svavar certainly managed to create a friendly and familiar atmosphere. He is the funniest guy I’ve seen play in years! If it is his amazing solo-dialogue-play about a singer-songwriter’s seminar on a castle in Denmark (“I even found a secret door”), the colourful interpretation of an Icelandic troll story or the final climax of the show a medley of semi-classic rock tunes (to name a few: The Prodigy’s Firestarter, Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger – all performed on ukulele). Svavar has a sympathetic appearance and an engaging sense of humour that makes him an amazing entertainer. And he knows it: “Oh, you’re just clapping, because I am amazing,” he says with played indignation. And nobody manages not to giggle.
Then suddenly—the laughter hasn’t even died down—Svavar gets all serious. What follows is impressive: He tells a story about a love long shipwrecked by geographical distance and mistakes. The room is completely silent and the first chords of Emotional Anorexic fall deeply into the ears of a stunned audience that had freaked out laughing just moments ago. He got us again. The following verses were at least as authentic as his hilarious songs, but he kept getting even more honest and emotional. His honest lyrics grow large as life as the audience listens carefully. Everyone here has dealt with this: love, loss, hurt. We’re not in this alone.
It would have been easy to stick to the clown-show, to exploit people’s good humour and snatch some cheap gags throughout. But Svavar chooses the really hard way, leading his audience through a wide palate of different moods this evening. This led him to talk about politics in the end, about Icelandic troll-myths, love and about quitting his 9-to-5 day job to become a troubadour. This man is living his dream, and I am glad he is.