Review: Jonsi wraps U.S. tour leg at New York’s terminally awful Terminal 5

05.11.10 8 years ago

Jonsi’s live concerts are everything a show in a middle-sized venue with a generous budget should be. There’s drama, personality, the big-headed songs and the lesser, weak-kneed; there’s inventive visuals and engaging image congruence between personnel and production; it ain’t too short, it’s not too long, there’s satisfaction and immediate nostalgia, leaving viewer looking around at compatriots like, ” did you just see that, too, do you remember when…?”

At Terminal 5 on Sunday, as Jonsi murmured and yew-yewled away, the cap crowd of 3,000 shut the hell up, with the exception to those too stoned to keep their manners in check. The band had their setup sideways-facing, so the magic tricks behind intricate tunes like “Go Do” were revealed to us as much as to each other. Drummer Thorvaldur Thor Thorvaldsson is just one of the nastiest, rocket-shippiest talents to whack a tom-top.

And Terminal Fail 5 remains one of the crappiest places in New York to see a show. There’s few, withering sightlines, columns busting up view as well as splicing any sweet sound sin waves to creep their way past the first 10 lines of bodies. The balconies are useless even to those crammed on its edges or depressingly crouched down on the floor to see through the clear glass. The drink prices are mean, the exits corral-ish and I didn’t even know 12th Ave. existed until this place opened up.

Cry me a river, right? Cry me snow, fire, water, insects, a dot matrix, etc., as well, as those were the video projections that took us through the four seasons on stage. The band has what looks like the broken and jagged slatted windows to an old warehouse set up behind them, with a backdrop of ghostly branchless trees beyond that. They all act as screens for the narrative. There are a quartet of smaller dioramas dotted around the front of the stage, like footlights to the extraordinarily thoughtful motifs scrambling over Jonsi’s “Go” album.

It’s hard to explain. These colorful abstracts are like moody poetry on top of the Sigur Ros frontman’s own — difficult still to discern even though its sung in English rather than Icelandic. But you feel it, in volume and booming bass of “Tornado” showstopper (and encore-ender) “Grow Till Tall.” The (literal) tornado of sights swooshed over Jonsi’s body on the latter as he hunched over a bevy of pedals and his microphone, the shredded fringe of his jacket dapple with light, a charicature of a headdress bobbing. It really brought tear to the eyes, though I don’t know why, but it was a clash that makes up A Moment.

Next time, crew, go to Town Hall, or Roseland. Or Grand Ballroom — yeah, where Sigur Ros supported their last album “Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust” with a spectacular light show and an amphitheater-style floor.

Bowery Presents (great bookers) are the promoters that run this town, or the majority of its cool shows, and there’s only so many places you can go when you’re on their docket. But leave dance shows to the four floors of Terminal 5, where the stage comes secondarily. A show like Jonsi’s is bigger than that, even for a 3k capacity.

Jonsi’s solo album “Go” was released last month; he is finished with touring in the U.S. for now and will be touring in Europe starting later this month.

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