by / August 10th, 2009 /

Amiina, St. Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny

As far as live music is concerned, there are special occasions…and then there’s the divine marriage of a sublime venue and suitably magnificent act. Such are the acoustics and visual accoutrements of St. Canice’s Cathedral – the second largest in Ireland, so I’m told – that the likes of 2 Unlimited could feasibly walk in here and pull an impressive gig out of their spandex cycling shorts. Conversely, Icelandic sirens Amiina could perform in the bottom of a skip and still make it feel like the most enchanted place on earth. Add the two together and it really is a cause for celebration.

There’s something about Amiina that engender a warm-and-cuddly-inside feeling in their live audience. Perhaps it’s the Icelandic accent; a delicate hybrid of rolling Rs and pixie-soft vowels that evokes a soft collective sigh each time they address tonight’s assembled crowd. More likely, it’s to do with the foursome’s ability to transport any listener to a blissful, childlike wonderland. Many adjectives crop up time and time again when describing this queenly outfit, and they certainly bear repeating: childlike, glacial, hypnotic, unique, sleepy-eyed, beautiful. Part of the joy of watching Amiina live is the visual unpeeling of the many layers of each song. Their celestial sound is built on a bewildering array of instruments, and part of Amiina’s charm is watching its multi-instrumentalist members flit from zither to harmonium and saw to drinking glasses. Often, the flitting happens mid-track, making for a delightful spectacle. -Rugla’ is sweetly satisfying, while -Hilli’ and -Sexfaldur’ are so uplifting and enchanting that they can cause the chest to swell.

Where Amiina’s album Kurr is soothing, lullabic and aimless, the newer material in tonight’s set hints at a dramatic new direction. If the endlessly gorgeous -Asinn’ is anything to go by, Amiina are moving towards a sturdier, more rhythmic sound. Tonight’s show is their last for some months – member Hildur Ársælsdóttir is having a baby boy in October, and so the band will be off the road until 2010. Still, tonight’s magic moments should be enough to tide over most of us for quite some time.

Photos by Colm Hogan. Click for full-size.
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  • That sounds a truly amazing gig, great review, sad I missed it.

  • Gerard

    Very sorry I miised this. I have only seen them live once, but it was a truly magical experience.

  • Jules

    Was lucky enough to be there – spellbinding show from start to finish. First act on was Geppetto and this was their very first performance as a band, although it didn’t show. Jeremy Hickey(RSAG) joined them on drumming duties and a local artist Mick Minogue, drew beautifully detailed Pinnochio themed drawings on an overhead projector throughout their show – piss in your pants cool! Then it was the turn of Katie Kim and her band to wow the audience. There was huge anticipation for this performance with Donal Dineen even promising me my money back if I didn’t enjoy the show earlier that afternoon. Beautiful voice, beautiful songs but absolutely terrible problems with bass from where we sitting. Also painfully low volume on saxophone – double dam! Despite incurring partial hearing loss, was still definetly worth it – roll on her performance at Lecky Picky!! Finally Amiina…simply as beautiful as Miss Sweeney described it above!Check out for more pics & videos.