Monday 14 November, 2005

Tonight is my first night at home since Wednesday, because I was in Skye for the weekend and Edinburgh on Thursday.Skye was fun – if you call uprighting gale-battered caravans and repairing caravan-battered fences fun – although I nearly didn't get there. Friday night was a very powerful storm out west, and the Skye bridge was closed, so I didn't get out until Saturday.

Before that was a night in Edinburgh, partly work and partly a Sigur Ros concert at the Corn Exchange. This was the third time I had seen the Icelandic band, and it was a great gig.

Their support was Amina, a string quartet who I'd seen when they supported Sigur Ros the first time I saw them. Also Icelanders, these four girls are even more unusual and quirkier than Sigur Ros (if possible), and really make you wonder about life up there in the land of Magnus Magnusson. Although they mostly played strings, the four girls from Amina dotted around a stage that contained a range of other instruments from the sublime to the feintly ridiculous. Alongside pianos and guitars were a row of wine glasses with water in – you know that whole trick when you wet your fingers and run them round the rim? Yes, they were using them as instruments. The most surreal contribution was a thin strip of metal shaped rather like a saw without the teeth – one of the band knocked it with a soft-headed drum stick, then bent it back by varying degrees to change the pitch. An Icelandic wobble-board, if you will. It really needed to be seen to be believed, and while Amina's music is just a little too off-beat for me to think that I'd get into it all that easily, they're certainly the most original band I've ever seen perform.

Sigur Ros themselves were outstanding. Their music contains so much – there are soft, haunting songs with mysterious (well, Icelandic) lyrics and almost achingly beautiful melodies and tones; one or two girls standing near me were practically in tears after some songs. The other extreme contains pounding, gripping, violent, thrashing cataclysms of guitars, strings, drums and the lead singer's amazing voice, which exude so much energy and which boom right through you that you feel shell-shocked at the end.

I'd love to say it's the best gig I've been to for ages, but unfortunately, it's the only gig I've been to for ages.

Whether it's up there with Rolf Harris at Glastonbury in 2001, though, is something I'll have to think about.

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