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In concert: Jonsi at 9:30 Club

By David Malitz

jonsiJonsi: Too much beauty? (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

Is it enough for music to simply be pretty? If so, then Jonsi may be the new gold standard. The leader of Icelandic glacial soundscapers Sigur Ros visited the 9:30 Club on Monday and Tuesday nights in support of his solo debut, "Go," reinvented as a sort of mystical woodland pixie whose sweeping falsetto serves as a siren song to all forest dwellers. On Monday, clad in a plaid shirt with red and black feathers and fringe, he led his four-piece backing band through symphonic songs that were sometimes sparse, sometimes surging and always, impeccably gorgeous.

Besides the beauty there wasn't much else to take in, but there was plenty of beauty. Lightly chimed glockenspiel and vibraphone defined the quieter, fragile songs, helping create a natural echo for Jonsi's wail. Sprightly songs such as "Around Us" and "Go Do" were just as gorgeous, almost to a fault. Around every corner was another pretty crescendo, another soaring vocal, whether it be in Icelandic, English or who-knows-what.

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The images projected on a giant screen behind the stage and two smaller ones at the side served as an appropriate companion piece to the music. They were wintry nature scenes, like the animated dreams of an Audubon Society lifetime member. Hummingbirds, butterflies, eagles, fireflies and owls dominated, like an extras casting call for that "Legend of the Guardians" movie. Flying away and escaping were permanent themes. During "KolniĆ°ur," the sold-out audience - rapt, still and silent the entire night - watched as a wolf chased a deer through the woods. The chase picked up pace just as the song's pulse quickened, turning from a simple piano meditation to a lightly-clattering romp. At the conclusion, the animals attacked each other but there was no bloodshed. Instead they disintegrated and those pieces harmoniously merged.

For the encore Jonsi expanded his outfit to include a multi-color headdress and even galloped around the stage, trancelike, as if taking part in some sort of tribal ritual during the set-closing "Grow Till Tall." The rumble slowly built to a roar, that flawless falsetto actually showed some cracks. But we knew how it would end, with another moment of pristine beauty. Except it didn't. Jonsi and his band walked off the stage to the sound of dissonance. And it was actually pretty refreshing.

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By David Malitz  | November 9, 2010; 5:44 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  Jonsi  
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