I had seen Icelandic rock icons HAM 15 years ago at Fellahellir. I thought they looked like freaks (guess they still do) and I was actually a little bit scared of Óttarr Proppé, who I felt sounded like the devil, or should I say what I thought the devil should sound like. Maybe it’s because of my acquired appreciation for the devil, but I have, through the years, grown to like HAM. So I was a little bit excited for their recent sold out gig at NASA.
Opening the night were the Nine Elevens, who were surprisingly good. Somebody called them the Icelandic Motörhead. I’ll say one thing, they definitely looked rock, shirts off, etc.
On the subject of fashion, judging by the crowd at the HAM show, it was apparent that the newest fashion tips from New York and Europe hadn’t registered in the minds of the people at NASA, newest meaning anything from the last decade. The uniform was simple: black T-shirt and jeans. I felt like I was at an Iron Maiden tribute concert in Húsavík. The crowd, which could only be described as cattle in tight T-shirts, started chanting for HAM the second the Nine Elevens left the stage. I have seldom seen NASA so fully packed. Crazy fans were screaming and it was obvious that I was watching a comeback of pioneers in a legendary rock band. At the first guitar note, it was on. Glaring rock pounded on peoples’ brains. I felt a tingle down my spine. O, what power. O, what mythical presence. Only a short while after HAM started, people started crowd surfing. Those not raised on peoples’ shoulders got high in other ways – I bet that if we’d take all the money from cocaine sales that night we could have save a small third world country, which is partly a shame, but partly rock ’n roll.
The hysteria had, for the most part, a demented religious undertone. I can’t say that this totemic ritual was contagious, but I liked HAM’s force without anger. They mixed the divine with the devilish, the sex with frigidness and masculinity with… not femininity, but that male take on the feminine that we often just call, for better or worse, gayness.
“Jæja” or “Well” being the only word spoken between songs, HAM seemed heavenly gothic, never missing a beat or a relevant tone. This was a very well delivered performance. Sigurjón Kjartansson, dressed in clothes from the discount Norwegian menswear shop Dressmann, not like the flat-out bum which has been his style for many years, was brilliant, and I thought to myself “When he’s not trying to be funny, (a sad day job he has at a local paper), he’s actually a likeable guy.”
This HAM concert was an opera, a theatre and a religious experience. I haven’t seen head banging like this since the head bangers ball. I felt like a character from Quantum Leap (maybe Al) travelling back in time to change the future. The year is 1990 and Hard Rock is establishing itself as the reigning genre in music. My mission is to make HAM famous and destroy Rammstein, the retarded cousin of HAM. I provide HAM a warm-up gig with Laibach and they’re on their way to fame. I snap back to 2006, I’m at NASA. People are dressed like rockers did in 1990. I call out to Al to figure out if I changed the future.
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