Icelandic indie rockers Sigur Ros began their current tour over a year ago, well before they had released their latest album Kveikur. But for the current leg of the year-long tour, which came through Cleveland last night for a stop at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, the veteran band retooled the visuals and put the emphasis on playing new material from Kveikur. It also assembled a terrific 11-piece band with horns and strings. As a result, the live show has become a visual and aural extravaganza that recalls the over-the-top shows of the ‘70s (think Pink Floyd in its heyday). It’s just too bad a bigger crowd didn’t show up for it. About a decade ago, the band rolled through town to play the now-shuttered Odeon and sold the place out. Last night, Jacobs Pavilion looked to be about half full for the concert. Not that it kept from the band from putting on a spectacular show.
With images of what looked to be translucent blue embryos projected on a giant video screen, the group opened with “Yfirboro” and then delivered a spot-on rendition of “Brennisteinn,” the first song (and first single) from Kveikur. “Brennisteinn,” which began with a distorted bass line and Sigur Ros’s signature sound of the bowed guitar, benefited from some trippy visuals that included flickering strobes and green lasers that flickered across the pavilion. The slivers of green shapes on the giant video screen resembled scenes from the Alien films and had a distinctly sci-fi characteristic. The light rain that fell throughout the show helped create an appropriate mood for the rather ominous songs from Kveikur — with its heavy percussion, the title track in particular came off as something rather sinister. Because the band sings most of its songs in a made-up language called Hopelandic, it’s impossible to understand the lyrics. But because of the way the band’s music has so many sonically rich textures, that wasn’t a detriment to enjoying the concert.
For the two-song encore, the band first offered up a new song that it was still refining and then it turned “Popplagio” into something epic that included a lively jam at the end that found the guys really cranking up the volume. It was a fitting conclusion to a mesmerizing concert.