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Asgeir: King and Cross of the Afterglow - A resounding mergence of cathartic electro-folk-nordic pop.

by Amy Farnworth. Published Wed 18 Oct 2017 20:06, last updated: 18/10/17

If Bjork is the Queen of Icelandic weirdness, then Asgeir is the King of Icelandic catharsis.

Many would argue that they are one and the same; both strange, both quirky, both left of field; yet it would be sacrilege to describe these two artists as comparable, with only their native country providing a common ground to work from.

Besides, Bjork has been on the scene for decades, and has cemented herself as a mainstay of Nordic iconicism. Asgeir is only just getting started.

According to Google translate, ’Eftir ljóma‘ is Icelandic for Afterglow, the name of Asgeir#s latest, and second album to date; the album he is touring across the globe at the moment, and also according to Google translate, ‘æðislegur’ is Icelandic for ‘awesome’, which is one of several adjectives that could be used to describe the 25 year-old Icelandic singer-songwriter’s performance at Liverpool Arts Club last night. 

Supported by Aussie songstress, Gordi, whose haunting voice is extremely reminiscent of that of Hannah Reid from London Grammar, Asgeir provided the audience with an atmospheric, cathartic, and emotional performance.

The crowd was pretty sparse, which at first glance could’ve been a sign of disinterest, with a hazardous guess that most music-lovers would prefer to part with their cash in order to hear the similar tones of more popular artists such as Jack Garrett, James Blake, Bon Iver, or Australia’s Chet Faker and Matt Corby, However, it was clear from the outset that those in attendance were not just music lovers out for a taste of something different; they were music lovers who were also real fans of this talented young musician. It also demonstrated that Asgeir’s popularity had yet to hit stratospheric heights.

Asgeir arrived on the Icelandic music scene around five years ago with the release of his first album Dýrð í dauðaþögn. Originally only released in Iceland and therefore only available in Icelandic, popular demand for the album made the youngster re-record his debut in translated English, and what a treat it was. Re-released in 2014 to a more international market, under the new title, In The Silence, it included hits such as ‘Higher’ and ‘King and Cross’.

Second album, Afterglow, was released in May this year, and it was tunes from this album that dominated Asgeir’s set last night.

Where his first album provided the listener with melodic folk-indie- pop, this second offering veers more into a kind of Nordic-electronic ensemble, with emphasis on big-bass reverberation and emotion, not unlike that found on Jack Garrett’s tracks, ‘Surprise Yourself’ and ‘Weathered.’

With the stage shrouded in darkness, casting a dimly lit shadow on the atmospheric venue, Asgeir entered in relative silence, guitar strung over his shoulder, baseball cap covering his face. His voice though, well, his voice, which is a high-pitched falsetto that even the likes of Ellie Goulding could only wish to reach, spoke to the crowd in a soft yet paradoxically hard-hitting way.

The heavy vibrations of the drums and bass - played by his backing entourage of five accompanists - echoed around the stage, the acoustics surpassing most expectations, leaving the Arts Club roof rumbling and hearts reverberating all across the floor; and as Asgeir alternated between guitar and synth, providing an electronic, melodic feel to his set, the lighting flicked from icy blue, to red to white, really adding emphasis to the resounding emotion that his performance tried to convey.

To a stranger, unfamiliar with Asgeir’s work, the bulk of his set could’ve appeared very slow, steady and samey, with the songs from both albums all seeming to merge into one. However, the small, intimate crowd clearly loved him and could clearly differentiate between his offerings, which only added fuel to the fact he has a niche following. And it was towards the end of his set that this became more apparent, with tracks such as King and Cross and I Know You Know provoking bouts of swaying and whooping from the audience.

Encoring with his most pop-influenced song to date, Stardust, and finishing with first album hit, Torrent, Asgeir’s small yet emotional show went down with just as much clout as the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

The venue may not have been packed, and the interaction with the audience may not have been as chatty as one would’ve liked, but it didn’t need to be. Asgeir isn’t a show pony, he’s not an entertainer; he’s a young bloke who loves making music, and if he continues to gig at venues like the Arts Club, providing melodramatic-emotionally resonating, electronic, experimentally-produced pop music to dedicated fans, then he can easily cement himself high in the rankings of successful singer-songwriters of the 21st Century.

Purple Revolver Rating: 3.75/5



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