Ólafur Arnalds @ Szene

“I’ve just realised I am facing the wrong way here, sorry, I have to move” is the first sentence Ólafur said a few days ago on the microphone right after coming on stage, and it made the whole audience laugh. The opening band had been two guys on acoustic guitars, different from what we were about to hear. We sat and stood still as he moved his equipment a little so he could be sitting sideways, towards the musicians without having his back to us. He had a computer at elbow level, and besides a few minutes here and there to apologise for starting so late and to introduce the songs, from that moment on he was very quiet and not so communicative. I’m not sure if that was because of the long drive, or because he’d barely eaten and also that there were technical problems… or, simply, because he is Icelandic. (As I witnessed when I was in Scandinavia, people are better left alone.. especially musicians). But this hardly ruined it for me: the whole mood was amazing. I spotted two people who left the room to COUGH. yes, they didn’t want to cough right there in front of him, because it would have disrupted the atmosphere. I myself was afraid to BREATHE… let alone move.
I was hoping that doddi would be one of the musicians, but I suppose he was left behind in Reykjavik. Without or without him, though, the string quartet (that’s a loose term, since there were 3 violins so I suppose it wasn’t a ‘conventional’ string quartet per se) were lovely; they were all very focused, the instruments had a clean and monumental sound.
He started off with an Icelandic Lullaby, moved onto a new song, then Haust. When 0040 came on, I was over-the-top happy, because it’s one of my favorite songs of his.. In a small hall like that – I counted exactly how many people there were, and the total was 111.. Amazing since the concert took place on November 11th, in the 11th district… but that is all beside the point – the sound was enveloping the audience and it felt grand. I remember thinking then that sound is not just waves, but it can be a liquid too. Something that keeps expanding, and never stays still.

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