Location, location, location. Apparently. 'Boutique' festivals in 'unique' settings, pricing out the kids and helping the dinosaurs of rock 'n' roll to rock 'n' waddle their way through retirement. The Eden Sessions, held at Cornwall's Eden Project, could be viewed through the same – somewhat canted – lens.
Despite such concerns, its billing of Sigur Rós is an inspired one. The seminal post-rockers have always managed to capture the ethereal, and by placing them in the middle of this quite bewildering space, where nature meets artificiality head-on, a quite special evening lies ahead.
With nature's own artwork serving as an adequate backdrop, the music reaches out and fills the amphitheatre-like space before making an about-turn to wrap the audience up in a warm hug.
Initially, the sound is a little too inoffensive for the louder sections – nobody wants to be deafened, but a little more ooomph while the band gives it their all on stage wouldn't go amiss.
No reason to be concerned though. Sigur Rós do so much in the way of dynamics that they could make a whisper sound like a roar, and that is precisely what they do.
Early tracks include the arpeggiated bass-led 'Olsen Olsen' from 1999's 'Ágætis byrjun' and a glitchy, disjointed version of 'Glósóli' – the third beat of every other bar is out of time, so when the song kicks into its grand climax there is a genuinely satisfying release.
As the band's songs regularly ascend into the echelons of grandiosity it's hard to shake images of plants blossoming into life and animals running through forests – a result of all the syncing of their music in recent years, and perhaps, in part, because of the uniqueness of this venue. But regardless, beautiful and stirring visuals, along with surreal lighting, return thoughts to the stage.
When, inevitably, and perhaps unavoidably, the band play their career-changing song, 'Hoppípolla', it's apparent that at least half of tonight's audience paid the £40 ticket price solely for that, and for the first time the whole venue is on its feet.
Boldly, Sigur Rós wrap things up with their latest single 'Brennisteinn', which is as dark, menacing and as powerful as the band has ever sounded. Live, it carries some real brute force, and to finish on such a tone is to stamp down a new direction with conviction.
The lighting that accompanies the finale shoots from the stage into the audience, bouncing back at the band from the surrounding woodland. It is a sight and sound to behold and one that will live long in the memory. That's for sure.
Words: Russell Cook
Photos: Anna Kroeger
Get the best of Clash on your iPhone - download the app here