Review of Sigur Ros live:
"Shhhh!" The tumbler's floorward trajectory climaxes in a palpable, dispiriting 'boing'. Brows crease, tongues clack and the offender - a hapless young soul in a Manics T-shirt - is glowered at like a Bible-defacing altar boy. But then, really, a modicum of hushed deference is to be expected. We are not, after all, attending any ordinary, harumph, 'rock' gig. We are, instead, meeklings in the presence of gilded greatness, unworthy parishioners granted a rare audience with the sacred pontiffs of sonic preciousness they call Sigur Rss. Truly, we're not worthy.
Sigur Rss are not so much a rock band as a human art installation - albeit one that lacks, completely, any reasonable justification or sin-absolving raison d'jtre. Accost any Sigur apostle and they'll whisper knowingly of "sonic architecture" and "ethereal genius"; dropping to their knees as they sobbingly compare their idols to the hallowed likes of My Bloody Valentine and - glory be! - the Cocteau Twins. Yet the Icelandic foursome - playing, tonight, to a rapturous, sellout crowd - have more in common with such kaftan-squeezers as Yes and Tangerine Dream; rocking, as they do, the powdered wig of pre-punk, post-interesting ambience.
Despite the freezing throb of orchestral pomposity, the fresh-faced youngsters are not, however, proper progressive-rockers. For Sigur Rss do not progress. Instead, they simply spread their numbers out like picnic blankets and nestle into the resulting boredom - toying distractedly with curlicues of sound and stroking chords like they were comatose kittens.
For a brief moment, such temperance proves diverting, with 'Nyja Lagif' flexing its talons like the exquisitely indifferent nephew of (oh yes) Fleetwood Mac's 'Albatross'. But, like bedpost bubblegum, the Rss experience rapidly loses its appeal. The onset of vaguely psychedelic potboiler 'Staralfur' heralds the grinding racket of shifting Jurassic plates, while 'Hjartad Hamast' merely yawns and stretches like Father Time.
By the time vacantly pretty warbler Jonsi Birgisson begins to whisper, boringly, into his guitar microphone during the unbelievably slow 'Svefn-G-Englar', we find eons of dust have settled on the idea that Sigur Rss were ever anything more than the emperor's new kaftan. Like all the worst artists, they shroud their gaping nothingness in curtains of ambiguity and audience-snubbing aloofness: daring us to question their motives by blankly, coolly giving nothing away. Ever. Ultimately, we came, we yawned, we went home. Tedium, thy name, truly, is Sigur Rss.