11 November 2019 (gig)
08 November 2019
There is nothing bad I can say regarding the performance I witnessed on Friday 8th Nov 2020, it was quite simply brilliant! This is the first time I have been to see &Ocute;lafur play and I have to say it was one of the best musical experiences I have had.
‘OPIA’ is part of the Contemporary Edits series hosted at Southbank which includes over 30 performances running throughout the year. The title ‘OPIA’ means ‘the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye’, according to film-maker John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows and there definitely was elements of ambiguity to the production of this concert.
The stage production had a very minimalist feel to this concert, everything felt stripped back. There was no fancy visuals on a 100ft screen, nor were there dancers bouncing up and down in the background (not that there's anything wrong with having either of those). It felt like it was designed with the mindset of emphasizing on the sound of the instruments played by the musicians performing the music composed by the brilliant Olafur, which was also helped by the lighting design.
Every track performed had a different lighting setup, including different colours, which felt like Olafur wanted to transcend the audiences into different elemental environments, at least that’s how I interpreted it. The lights were always behind the band, never in front of them, which created these slightly moving silhouettes playing their instruments adding extra mystery, again focusing on the instruments and not distracting the audience away from the sound.
Olafur’s interaction with the audience at the beginning, middle and finale of the performance also added to the experience. He settled everyone with his calm, quiet humble voice. He asked us to participate in singing a note, which he recorded and used as a loop in the next track. He also gave us brief humorous glimpses into his past; where he grew up in Iceland and growing up around his grandparents which ultimately influenced and paved his way into becoming a musician.
This concert had me nodding my head, waving my hands in the air with joy and even made me cry, which has never happened to me before. Definitely lived up to the hype and was well worth it, only downside was not being able to get into OPIA Lates … Oh well, maybe next time.