tour diary #5

jónsi’s manager john best is spending some time on the road with the band as they tour asia, here is the sixth installment of his tour diary

november 29th, 2010 seoul, south korea

sorry to the rest of the world, but seoul, s korea just came from nowhere to take top spot in best audience ever stakes. we thought ferrara was good, with its coordinated confetti and hand-held flares back in the summer, and salt lake city knocked our socks off when we were expecting, well, i don’t know we were expecting, but certainly not thinly-veiled hysteria. and now seoul. who’d a thunk it?

i guess the signs were there from the welcoming committee at the airport with the really professional printed banners…in somewhat, um, stilted icelandic! (the printers in s korea do a smashing job, people). peter, our tour manager, joked that he’d bought the “fan package” for s e asia to make the *talent* feel better about himself, but this was a degree or two above rent-a-crowd. after that though there was little indicate major devotion nestling in bosom of the populace. our short sorties from the intercontinental into the anodyne streets nearby were undisturbed by acolytes or indeed anyone. the major talking point was the sheer quality of the hotel breakfast.

when we got to the ax club in the afternoon there was a small phalanx of mostly female fans across from the front door, who jostled politely at the sight of the merch, but nothing out of the ordinary. even as the set commenced the mood was, if anything, more than usually reserved (sometime the politeness of asian audiences can be misinterpreted as lack of interest by some sensitive artists), although the large number of people wearing home-made crowns a-la-doddi was noted with pleasure*, as were a further three icelandic banners thanking jonsi for (finally) coming to korea. and then, slowly, unbidden whoops of encouragement began to accompany jonsi’s every move away from the mic or vocal flourish, growing in confidence and intensity as the set progressed. this is going well i thought, standing next to sound man jelle weaving his usual sonic magic, whatever the size, shape and construction of the venue.

doddi's pride crown

and then at what we presume was a pre-ordained point in around us – the moment where the band flip from the acoustic piano-led version to the full-on club-banger rendition – most everyone in the crowd started launching paper airplanes towards the stage. there seemed to be an endless supply of these slowly accreting on the stage in an origamic drift. i picked up some of the many that had fallen short and smiled at the message “sorry alex…i love your boyfriend”. there were others too, printed with the “drip” motif from the artwork and snatches of lyrics, and all in a variety of colours. there was even one huge one, maybe close on a metre long, that made it to jonsi’s feet only for him to hurl it inelegantly back into the crowd.

sorry alex...

origami drift

looking at one in my hands now, i can see this intervention was coordinated by the “official south korea sigur ros fan community“, so thanks and more power to that august organisation. it was appreciated. what was especially appreciated was that every single tip of every single plane had been carefully folded under and backwards to avoid the danger of having thousands of sharp, albeit paper, projectiles hurtling around a confined space. this was the source of much wonder and joyfulness backstage afterwards, with the band pondering the infinite tendresse of a people unwilling to risk putting out jonsi’s one remaining “good eye”. or maybe korea’s just become a risk-averse, litigious nation?

and it’s not as if that was the end of it, no siree. from then on the whole gig was ramped up to another level, the party atmosphere culminating in grow till tall when crate loads of confetti and spray snow were unloaded at another planned juncture. the band were clearly having trouble concentrating, with jonsi singing in the wrong mic and alex and ulfur missing notes to throw planes back into the crowd. it was all-in-all pretty special, and we are pretty sure no-one’s going to manage to top it this year. i mean japan and iceland you can’t do any better than that…can you?

* we found later that one fan was responsible for making all the crowns seen in the crowd so special jonsi shout out – ho-oh! – to whoever that was


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