Eivor at St Pancras Old Church, London - live review

Faroese songstress Eivor brings Nordic magic to one of London's unique music venues

The crowd at a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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There’s something truly magical about attending gigs in places of worship. The unique acoustics and pious atmosphere make for an individual viewing experience, and tonight’s sold‑out show, held in sacred surrounds close to the hustle and bustle of Kings Cross Station, is no exception.

Eivør Pálsdóttir is the Faroe Islands’ answer to Adele, but over here, she’s better known as the voice behind the opening credits of TV drama The Last Kingdom. And this stone church is a far cry from the concert halls where she normally plays. “This is my first show in England and I’m excited about playing here,” she beams. “I imagined I would only be playing for eight people!”

She eyes her extraordinarily diverse audience as she speaks. Standing side by side are post-metal enthusiasts, barefoot Glastonbury-goers, seasoned giggers and just about everyone else in between. Yet when Pálsdóttir begins to sing, we’re all united in amazement. Her voice really is something else, and her tremendous presence fills every inch of the old church.

Drenched in cobalt lighting, she alternates between guitar and bodhrán, accompanied by her touring percussionist and bassist/synth player. Loops, samples and dry ice fill the incense-scented air, giving everyone goosebumps, despite the balmy evening.

More Kate Bush than Björk, Pálsdóttir occupies the same progressive space as the likes of Bat For Lashes, Anna von Hausswolff and Susanna Wallumrød in offering a captivating break from the sickly, Auto-Tuned nonsense that permeates modern music. Her songs are accessible, but they’re beautifully balanced with off-kilter electronics, elements of folk and psychedelia, and primal energy.

Take, for example, Salt, her “love song for the ocean” from the recently released English-language version of Slør. Pálsdóttir’s stunning voice caresses its fuzzed-up electronics while she pounds a tribal beat on a bodhrán, transporting the live track into the sort of stark industrialism Throbbing Gristle would be proud of.

And then there’s the ever-evolving Trøllabundin, which is one of tonight’s highlights. What begins as a powerful tribal ritual explodes into a fully charged frenzy of drums, vocals and throat singing. It’s the sort of thing you might imagine druids chanting at Stonehenge on the summer solstice.

These raw, experimental numbers are interspersed with lighter, poppier songs, like In My Shoes and a folkish version of Rain, the latter enhanced by guest vocals from fellow Faroese artist Konni Kass. There’s even a powerful cover of Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat for the encore.

Eivør Pálsdóttir is truly captivating and Prog suspects the next time she plays here, it’ll be to an even bigger crowd.

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.