From the moment they step onstage, it’s clear there’s something bewitching and otherworldly about Sólstafir. The Icelanders are performing their superb 2014 album Ótta in full – potentially risky for such recent material, but it’s a trip best experienced as a whole, the slow, menacing coaxing of Lágnaetti immediately sweeping you into their world.
The band rarely stop to address the crowd, preferring to let this odd mix of Killing Joke-style post-punk, post-rock textures and old-school heavy metal simmer before bringing to the boil, but when frontman Addi Tryggvason does so, it’s with an impressive level of honesty and a wickedly dry wit, telling the crowd how he channelled the spirit of Phil Lynott when composing the haunting piano-led Midaftanu. The extra element of a string quartet bring a power and clarity to songs that are already moving and powerful, bringing Nattmal to a swelling close that feels tangible enough to touch – a tidal wave of sound rushing over your body. Sólstafir return for a second, ‘greatest hits’ set that includes the first-ever performance of Necrologue, a beautiful, personal address from Addi about struggles with mental health, and a closing Goddess Of The Ages that sees the crowd shaken from their wide-eyed wonder into a fist-pumping throng. It’s a night that proves a stunning challenge to the senses.