Samaris deserve to be “fucking huge”.
A rousing opening at Harpa Silfurberg sees Lockerbie‘s ambitious sounds find a welcoming home among the crowd. An overtly positive swell of sonic lulls from the eight piece band doesn’t quite match the relatively early hour, but they compensate with a wholly involved performance. It’s stirring in all the right places and augmented by some choice visuals. Leaves follow with a sometimes disparate set that bounces happily between different reference points from the last few decades. It works brilliantly when they’re channelling a dirtier rock n roll groove à la BMRC or the loftier heights of Britpop. A more chugging trad indie streak on some song doesn’t always play to their strengths, but maybe this just isn’t the best venue to showcase them.
No such trouble for Sóley, who has exactly the right set of pipes to exploit every beautiful acoustic crevice the Silfurberg room has to offer. She’s become a truly star performer over the last few years, with a slick unit around her to take on the bulk of the instrumental multitasking that used to dominate her set (props to her drummer).
She’s more aware of her own abilities as a result and able to deliver a finely nuanced performance that hits humour, tenderness and a sadness that’s never cute or cloying. The pathos of “Smashed Birds” never fails to floor me.
Samaris have shown an impressive development these last years too. A moody dynamic has filtered gradually into an all encompassing atmospheric; from head to toe, they look the part. Jófríður Ákadóttir – dressed in white and feeling every undulation of the clarinet and beats – is on the cusp of becoming a formidable stage presence.
While “Góða tungl” might have been their breakthrough track on the blogs this year, it’s surrounded by material even stronger. Their performance is among the best I’ve seen in three years of Airwaves and the consensus around me is similarly upbeat: Samaris deserve to be “fucking huge”. And they will. It certainly makes Bloodgroup‘s job even harder. The first time I’ve seen the band in two years and within three songs they’re showing me a completely different side to the one I remember: it’s more involved, more visceral and – more importantly – way more fun.
Emiliana Torrini‘s place in the canon of modern Icelandic music is evident before she’s even onstage. There is so much love in the room for the 36-year old performer, riding high after recent album Tookah (her fourth) and her success tonight is a fait accompli. New material such as “Animal Games” sits comfortably alongside the songs that defined her and the warmth, humour and rapport she shares with the amazing set of musicians that surround her is infectious. It’s a fitting end to a night of utterly spellbinding music.
Thanks to Sebastien Dehesdin for photography.