It takes real guts and determination to succeed in the music industry, something that Icelandic trio Sigur Ros know all about. Originally discovered and signed because of lead singer Jonsi Birgisson’s falsetto voice (the indie record company thought his ‘cute’ vocals would appeal to a teen market), the band moved away from an early pop sound to a more grandiose ethereal sound scape. This brave move would later garner them awards and airplay on TV and radio, however taking this arena size band on tour would prove to be a whole new challenge. Epic songs featured on international sports coverage and used to advertise David Attenborough’s Earth now needed to be taken on the road, and due to the band’s niche sound, big venues could not be relied on. As a result, the lads from Iceland took the decision to book an alternative tour schedule, taking them off the beaten track and deep into the heart of England and Wales.
The first stop on the tour is usually an important one, a chance for a band to make a mark on the national music scene with a grand opening in a prestigious venue. Sigur Ros decided to buck this trend and open their tour in the Northern city of Stoke-on-Trent at the alternative venue the Sugar Mill. Having played host to such significant acts such as CABBAGE and The Vryll Society, Jonsi and the gang knew that the Sugar Mill would be just the place to unleash their Hopelandic anthems. Only 400 people would witness their arrival on the UK tour scene, but it would be a performance that no one would forget it in a hurry.
On wards from Stoke-on-Trent, the band hits the road refuelling at service stations, (drummer Orri Páll Dýrason is particularly partial to KFC’s Zinger Tower Burger), on the way to the Welsh town of Conwy. Whilst attempting to wash down his dry chicken with some overly concentrated Fanta, Orri jokingly describes their two date schedule as an ‘international’ tour. Swallowing the remainder of his poorly executed meal with a grimace, he mentions on a serious note that he is a strong supporter of Welsh independence. This is why, at the end of their near two hour journey, they arrive at Conwy Castle. Towering above the town and overlooking the Conwy Suspension Bridge, Orri describes the Castle as a symbol of Welsh strength. Within the cavernous halls of this 13th Century relic, the band’s soaring sounds entertain a meagre handful of audience members. It doesn’t matter to Orri, as he beats out the bands pounding rhythms (the Welsh dragon emblazoned on the bass drum skin), a keen observer can see tears joining the rivulets of sweat running down his cheek. He may be over 3000km away from Reykjavik, but for one night in Conwy (look up conwy accommodation here), this Icelandic drummer is truly home.