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Concert Review/ Eivør Pálsdóttir

img  Tobias

On stage, she may move like an elf, sing like the queen of the night and put  spells on her audience like a veritable witch. But Eivør Pálsdóttir is certainly no angel. It is still early in the evening and outside, many of the visitors to the Moers Festival are still basking in the sun, popping their first beer or enjoying a walk through the bazaar-like bustle of the bordering labyrinth of food- and cloth-stands. Inside the Festival tent, however, Eivør has already invited in the night, abducting her public straight into her burning heart of darkness. Her concert may last no longer than a bare hour. But over the course of this brief span of time, she is transforming the room into a dream machine, conjuring up a world of forbidden wishes, self-destructive desires and sweet visions of harmony and heaven.

For those who have come to know Eivør from her studio albums, the contrast with the live situation could hardly be more striking. The delicate Country-twang of her eponymous record with Bill Bourne, which included cover versions of Townes van Zandt tracks among others, is notably absent from the performance, as are „Trøllabundin“'s stupendous Big Band references. The tender touches of Folk and Jazz, which have turned her into a cultural ambassador of the Faroes and the islands' first citizen of the year in 2004, have meanwhile been assimilated into a threatening Rock context and charged with a raw and angry energy. It is almost as if the friendly fairy tales of her discography had collapsed and given way to a black hole filled with the ominous whispers of reality - those who naively came here for an evening of enchanting ethnic chill-out must have been shocked.

Then again, the gig tonight proves how deadly effective the Eivør Pálsdóttir experience can be when delivered by a band as motivated and hungry as this one. While they could have played it safe and tuned down their sound to an alluring Soft Rock drift, the formation has instead opted for a loud, dynamic and powerfully crystalline stage production: The Guitar of Bejamin Petersen, an artist unafraid of ripping through some roaring Powerchords when deemed supportive of collective aims, is ringing metallically while Hogni Lisberg is stroking his drums with Timpani mallets, creating a muffled, otherwordly and distant thunder. Mikael Blake, meanwhile, may merely seem to be working on an unobtrusive foundation from the outside. But in reality, his brooding subsonics, partly created by playing his Bass right in front of the monitor speakers to create razorsharp impurities and a syrupy thickness, is essential to the nocturnal insomnia the group is aspiring to. Even more importantly, a small console in front of the formation, which Blake and Eivør are operating alternatingly, is injecting deep strings and electronic resonance to the tracks, which adds to the general sensation of walking through a slightly surreal dreamland.

Popular and predictable comparisons of Pálsdóttir with Björk are disproved as utter nonsense. On the one hand, these skilfully crafted songs, all of which are marked by a passionate urgency and a great sense of space, are always firmly rooted in the present, instead of pointing to the future. And then, Eivør's melodies are much more lyrical and fluent than Guðmundsdóttir's, avoiding the artistic angularity of her Icelandic colleague. Rather, there are quite different parallels at work here. In tracks like „Mín móðir“ („My Mother“), which opens entrancingly but then explodes into a middle section of frenzied Guitar chops and operatic lines, or the closing teenage nightmare „Nú brennur tú í mær“ („You burn inside of me“), replete with dissonance and demonic dynamics, she creates theatrical narratives which may rather hint at an interest in the psychedelic epics of the 70s and an influence by bands like The Doors than an allegiance with some of her Scandinavian sisters.

With her voice heavily drenched in cathedral reverb, which sometims made her sound as though she were sitting deep inside a stalactite cave, this gig may have had just a tad too many elvish side-tones for some listeners after all. The majority, however, hardly dared to breath during this sixty minute stint, with "We Love You"'s flying through the air after a mere three songs. It was the appreciative response of a mostly Jazz-affine audience to a formation which was still willing to take risks: Thanks to the intricate dramaturgy and resolute delivery of this tightly-knit band, any angelic hints were kept to an absolute minimum tonight.

By Tobias Fischer

Excerpts of almost all songs by Eivør Pálsdóttir can be found on her homepage.

Homepage: Eivør Pálsdóttir
Homepage: Moers Festival

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