Monday night saw Icelandic atmospheric rock band Sigur Ros return to Los Angeles — this time with a full orchestra in tow at the Greek Theatre.
Touring in support of their eighth full-length record ÁTTA, the band was accompanied by the Wordless Music Orchestra for what was the final show of the band’s North American tour. I’ve seen Sigur Ros a number of times in the outdoors, and all have been memorable. My first ever music festival, I chose Sigur Ros over Metallica at Outside Lands 2012 and saw them amidst the fog of Golden Gate Park in what was a wondrous experience. I saw them in the rain at both Treasure Island 2016 and Boston Calling 2017. Their music just goes so well with the outdoors.
I became a fan of the band thanks to their music being included in the 2001 Cameron Crowe film Vanilla Sky. Their cinematic music always lent itself to film and television so well, and the orchestral arrangements for this show definitely made things feel even more cinematic, as though you were watching a John Williams live show.
This was my first time seeing the band with an orchestra. I had mixed opinions on the experience. Some of the songs felt bigger as a result, but the band’s always been so good at making things feel big that some songs didn’t really need it.
The band played four songs from the new record, with my favorite being “Ylur” midway through their second set of the evening. The biggest pops from the crowd came for the songs from 2005’s Takk… and 2012’s Valtari — songs like “Andvari” and “Varðeldur”. The beautiful angelic vocals of Jonsi left fans in their feelings, and I could hear more than a couple of sobs at various points during the show. Fans were mostly respectful and you could hear a pin drop at most times, though for the first couple of songs of the set I had a pair of people behind me loudly having a conversation which took me out of things, but that thankfully came to an end.
Three songs from their 2002 record ( ) were played, though surprisingly the popular “Untitled #6 (E-Bow)” wasn’t among them. I’m still holding out hope to one day hear the song from that record “Untitled #4 (Njósnavélin)” live — that’s the song that closes out the emotional aforementioned Vanilla Sky and made me fall in love with them in the first place.
All in all it was an enjoyable night and I was able to cross off seeing Sigur Ros with an orchestra off the ol’ bucket list. They’re definitely must-see whenever they come to town, which thankfully has become more frequent in recent years.
Words by Mark Ortega
Photos by Tim Aarons