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 ÃrsÃ¦lsdÃ³ttir 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.