Shepherd’s Bush Empire // November 26th
I refuse to believe that Ásgeir is 22. There’s no way that what goes on at Shepherd’s Bush Empire tonight is the brainchild of someone so young. But alas, it’s true – in another episode of Young People Making Us Feel Inadequate, Ásgeir produces the goods and proves just how much of a superstar he’s become in an unprecedented time.
The venue is packed to the brim; upstairs seating areas having to force people to stand behind the rows is a pretty good measure of the demand for tickets. And rightly so, too – as the Icelandic folk singer (complete with bearded eight-piece band) steps onto the stage, the connection is immediate – as is how much they’ve grown as a live act this year.
It’s a celebration show, really – of an incredible year for the young singer-songwriter. Translating his début album Dýrð í dauðaþögn into its English version In The Silence, topping charts and playing major venues and festivals worldwide, it’s fair to say 2014 has been a good one for Ásgeir. While it doesn’t stop here – next he moves to Scandinavia and then through Australia for their summer festivals, his set feels triumphant – a time to relax and look back on so many brilliant achievements.
Playing half the set in Icelandic and half in English (and some tracks in both just for good measure), it’s a refreshing live act to see – one where you feel constantly connected even despite language barriers and the lack of “singalong” tracks. As usual, his cover of Nirvana’s seminal ‘Heart Shaped Box’ is a highlight, and the band’s brass section brings the original material from In The Silence to life so perfectly.
Ending his (loudly-requested) encore with ‘Torrent’, perhaps the most technically difficult and impressive of all Ásgeir’s material, is clever. It’s a party trick, a show-off piece with its tempo and mood changes, and its melodies rile the audience up one last time before we’re forced out of our little worlds of wintry imagery. He’ll be back, though – you can be sure of that, no doubt with yet another refreshment of the folk genre he’s ever so slowly redefining.