Live Review: Sigur Rós leaves Melbourne crowd in a haze of emotional euphoria after Margaret Court Arena show

Margaret Court Arena on Thursday night looked very different to the Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday night. Gone was the disco ball that hung over LCD Soundsystem’s stage; in its place was a full lighting production and screens on to which brilliant computer-simulated visuals would eventually project.

We are here for Sigur Rós and we are ready.

Of course, the show was well publicised. In the wake of Margaret Court’s comments against Australian marriage equality, Sigur Rós came out defiantly ensuring that their show would not be reflective of such sentiments. Walking through the Arena ahead of the show, it was clear that Sigur Rós’ specially designed equality merchandise was a popular seller.

There wasn’t a novelty surrounding it all however – today’s social environment affords people the opportunity to speak loud and actually have their messages heard; here’s hoping Australia doesn’t lag too far behind other progressive nations.

Split into two hour long sets, An Evening with Sigur Rós took us through the band’s decorated career – from the dramatic post rock intonations that carved much of their music from the late 90’s, through to the sweeping euphoric highs of Takk… and Valtari. The band themselves remained in darkness for much of Act One, letting the drama of the music speak for them; Jónsi‘s electric guitar crowed with gritty crunch as his cello bow ground against the strings, shooting striking orchestration into the MCA air.

Between Georg Hólm and Orri Dýarason, held the rhythm section down, creating musical tension that would continue to rise and rise, sometimes breaking through and sometimes maintaining that sense of suspense that seemingly snatched the oxygen out of every available space in the arena.

“Ekki Múkk” came early in Act One and had me unashamedly in tears, tears that didn’t stop until the conclusion of “Glósóli” directly afterward. There’s something that draws your emotions to a critical high point with Sigur Rós and theirs is perfect music to sometimes just indulge and let the tears fall. Their set at Splendour in the Grass last year had the same effect.

Act Two began with “Óveður”, which heralded an hour of stunning visuals that stepped things up from the first set. Crashing lights and dark landscapes were illuminated further by the band who, in the absence of Kjartan Sveinsson, were definitely in push ahead mode. A determination to make the Sigur Rós-as-trio format one that would stick the landing each time paid off with this gig; regardless of the intense reds that showered the crowd and the oddly post-apocalyptic landscapes the screen would project, Sigur Rós injected vibrancy and intense colour into the music that remains untouchable by any similar band in the genre, to me.

“Festival and “Kveikur” stood out as two huge highlights, while the set closer in “Poppalagið” had some people out of their seats and the rest of us looking on, jaws dropped. Sigur Rós, despite their public statements regarding Margaret Court’s comments, didn’t need to say much at all on the topic during the show – the evocative nature of the music and the reason we were all so entranced by it was proof enough that music, just like love, is universal – something we should all be able to enjoy and partake in, regardless of our background or orientation.

As the stamp ‘Equality’ shone at the end of the show as the band applauded the crowd and took their final bow, this message came home one last, strong time.

Photo by Andrew Wade, captured at Splendour in the Grass.