The show at the Paradise opened with the stage bathed in a dark blue light, a seemingly apt visual metaphor for the chill in the air outside, and the cold, long winters that Boston and Reykjavik share. Sóley Stefánsdóttir took the stage behind her keyboard with a moody and moving use of reverb and synth that led to an interesting contrast put forth by staccato drum machines, heavy bass and electronic piano. The act would build a tumultuous pulsing background for a breathy wake of vocals in a sea of enveloping sound, reminiscent of some of the bald emotional work of Björk.
At the end of the set, the muscular voice of Kris Delmhorst joined with ethereal Sóley’s creating a well rounded pop sound including Delmhorst’s back up band. Boston’s own regaled the crowd with tidbits and stories of the connections the players were feeling, but it was evident in their performance. An awesome slide guitar solo from Delmehorst’s band added nicely to the vaporous Sóley songs as they ended their set. Delmehort continued with a polished folk set, punctuated by percussion and soloing on the part of her back up players. Sean Staples really stole the show with a wonderfully raucous banjo solo as Delmehort’s blended a rootsy blues growl with a folky guitar to create a unique and engaging sound.
Iceland’s newest musical export Ásgeir Trausti followed with an incredible set. Singing in his native Icelandic, Trausti brought us back to an sonorous sensibility. Beautiful guitar on Sumargestur and lyrics that sounded mysterious and poetic in Icelandic held the audience rapt not only with virtuoso guitar, but also with the heartfelt vocals. As the set built, so did the wall of sound, thanks to two electronic pianos, a Korg synthesizer, Trausi on guitar and a live drummer. The band had such a get-down lounge groove that it belted the audience into a stupendous stupor. Enveloping atmospheric grooves were laid down behind interwoven melodies. The end result was a spectacular and complex sound, with electronic overlays, that produced an overwhelming reverberation, breathtaking in its tight delivery. By the time Adam Erza Group took the stage, the audience had been thwacked cerebrally into submission – it was time to dance. The Boston band offered sing along anthems, alternative rock tunes and a tongue in cheek delivery of “The Devil Went Down To Boston” as a redo of the Charlie Daniels Band classic cover, complete with violin solo. A great end to a terrific, lively evening.
Reykjavic Calling is a showcase of top artists from Iceland, Greenland and the Fareo Islands held in a sister city in America each spring. This is the second year it has been hosted in Boston. The event is followed by Iceland Airwaves held each fall in Reykjavik.