Years and years ago I discovered Eivør Pálsdóttir with her enchanting song “Trøllabundin” on Youtube while I was searching for folk music that carries a certain vibe rooted in ancient (pagan) history. Eivør‘s roots are firmly set on the Faroe Islands and her music has also been influenced by countries like Iceland (where she studied) and Denmark (where she lives now). In the beginning of her solo career her music was more folk oriented, but after 9 albums that sound got infused with jazz, electronica, trip hop, classical music and even pop still containing that raw and pure sound. By the end of May she’s re-releasing her 2015 album “Slør” as an English translated version and probably partially because of that she’s embarking on a spring tour with stops in Finland, Norway, Germany, the Benelux and UK (with quite some shows sold-out already). Her first stop was at one of the oldest still operating Europeans rock music venues Tavastia Club in Helsinki, which is the perfect setting for her atmospheric sound and a musical adventure we couldn’t miss out on..
When arriving at the venue we could immediately notice the wide range of the public that Eivør (*****) attracts with her music: young and old, metalheads and rockers, alternative and mainstream people,… It only proves the power that is contained within her art and music. We were greeted by her music playing from the speakers to set the mood already and while the room was steadily filling up, the lights got dimmed to only leave the instruments on stage as a focus point, engulfed by blue light and a light smoke.
When Eivør finally hopped barefooted on stage, she greeted us with an enthusiastic wave and an almost goofy smile, showing how excited she was to perform for us. With her she brought two handsome Faroese guys (as she herself later on introduced them) to support her with percussion, backing vocals, electronic tunes and some bass lines. She strapped on an electric Gibson guitar and started of an hour of musical magic with Mjørkaflókar softly with at first mainly her incredible voice swaying us into other realms. The mesmerizing and almost fragile trip hop like song was a great way to get into the vibe of what was yet to come. She went on with Brotin and Verd Mín, which brought the tempo up a little bit with more heavy electronics and drums introduced, but still held on to the already created magical atmosphere of her influences. I could see most of the crowd sway along to the melody and beats and caught myself having troubles to stand still. And I can say the same about Eivør since she was dancing and moving along to her own music herself, often with eyes closed engulfed by her art.
Since this was the first stop of her tour in support of the upcoming re-release of Slør, we were the first people to be graced by a live performance of the English version of one of her songs. Personally I have a preference still to the original language because even though not understanding much of the content or poetry, it still gives an extra depth and dimension to the songs. On the other hand the English lyrics were made to fit the music and vocal melodies perfectly, if you wouldn’t know it used to be sung in a while other language before you would’ve never guessed it now. Eivør said that she was very excited and nervous about the English UK release and that she was going to give it her best shot singing the lyrics right since she’s so used to the original. But also that if she makes a mistake, “fuck it”, which got us all laughing.
In 2015 she released 2 albums: Bridges and Slør. The first one being more bright, soft and in English, while the second is more raw. And it’s from Bridges that she brought us some tracks to calm down and relax for a bit. She started off the little break with the fragile title song Bridges and carried on this mood into the still tender but a bit more upbeat On My Way to Somewhere. With Røttu Skógvarnir they picked up the tempo a bit again with a highly energized performance of all three of them on stage.
The second time she picked up her traditional Nordic frame drum was a moment probably everyone present was looking forward to. Her two boys disappeared backstage for awhile and left Eivør alone on stage with her drum. She performed one of her older songs (and my personal favorite): Trøllabundin. The rhythmic drumming and vocals ranging from angelic singing to throaty whispers and shouting create an intense and almost trance-like atmosphere almost making you feel like you’re present at a ritual back when people still worshiped nature.
Eivør told us a little story about her writing the following song Boxes about when she packed everything to move, you always leave some of the “rubbish” behind. Her voice yet again enthralled all of us going from soothing to high-pitched and everything in between. After a few more pretty songs in English, another highlight of the night showed up with Í Tokuni. The last song of the regular setlist holds a certain tension that builds up to an true explosion of emotion and sound towards the end. Her signature style “heavy folktronic” sound is perfectly showcased in this song, near the end feeling so heavy that I could almost imagine myself being at an atmospheric black metal gig or something in those veins. One thing is sure: it left us all with mouths gaping wide open and urging for more of the addictive feeling the music called up from within ourselves.
Luckily after plenty of loud applause and encouragement of her beloved crowd, Eivør happily came back on stage for a few encore songs. At first she treated us with a little memory of her, telling us that one of the artists she looked up to from early on in her life is Leonard Cohen. And when she was performing in Canada at the age of 16 she gathered all of her courage to go knock on the doors of the Cohen residency. Where she of course didn’t find him. But still she wanted to dedicate a song to him by playing his track Famous Blue Raincoat. The story combined with the song created an incredibly intimate feeling in the room, which translated into quite some couples looking for some closeness during her playing. Then the time came for the very last song with Falling Free, again proving that Eivør has a damn impressive vocal range many people should be jealous of and is able to create a certain magical vibe and atmosphere around her that makes you smile, dance and feel energized. If you ever get the chance to see her live, don’t hesitate to go see this warm and impressive woman on (and afterwards off) stage, you won’t be disappointed!
On My Way to Somewhere
Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen cover)
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