They misplaced my bag somewhere between Halifax and Reykjavik. Atli, my friend and promoter for these Iceland shows told me it was a good omen for the tour: “Fall er fararheill”. It was nice of him and Joi, my host, to humour me – I’d made them wait up until 2 in the morning after I’d watched the baggage carousel rotate with the same 3 bags for half an hour before finally accepting my fate. On our dead-of-night walk from the bus station we passed the grand and sci-fi, yet somehow very austere Hallgrímskirkja church, my first slice of tourism in Reykjavik.
The next day I caught some glimpses of the city in between various media commitments, including a radio interview in a grafitti-adorned square more reminiscent of Berlin than what I’d expected in Reykjavik. We also shot a little video there you can check out somewhere (?!) online – (I can’t find the link at the mo, but I can tell you that the title on the website hosting the video is “Sincere, with the last name ‘Crabtree’.”)
The show that evening was in a cool little cafe in the heart of the main shopping street called Hemmi and Valdi. It was a lovely night and I got a really warm sense for the people and the place. I feel so lucky to have a way to visit a place and get to know local folks instead of being on the outside, looking in. We talked a lot about Iceland, Canada and the UK. I was surprised when these locals were shocked at how cold it got in Canada (you, dear reader, may already be well aware of this, but it was new to me: in spite of its location just below the Arctic Circle it doesn’t get that cold in Iceland in winter, thanks to the UK’s old pal the gulf stream). It also emerged that a significant chunk of Icelanders believe in elves (olvar) that live under rocks and whisper secrets to you. I think I’m in love with this place.
Iceland is renowned for its natural hot springs and baths. These pools aren’t just confined to the scenic locations you see in tourist ads, however, but your typical city pool is also heated this way, and I was able to stop in at a city centre pool for a swim and a hot bath in the morning. I spent the rest of the afternoon walking along the waterfront, taking in the hills across the bay. It gave me a strong sense of connection to back home in England – up north some of our hills are also known as ‘fells’, a term that must have been deposited on us back when the vikings were doing their viking thing in the UK.
When I arrived at Thursday evening’s venue – one of the main clubs in town by the name of Faktory – I was met by Atli. The conversation at some point turned to the Icelandic act Mum – a band I’ve been a fan of for almost 10 years, and Atli very casually mentioned that the couple we’d passed just outside of the club were in the band. I immediately insisted that Atli introduced me to them, and after soundcheck we all went for dinner along with Snorri who was playing the show that night. I LOVE MY JOB!
Snorri played a beautiful set and he and accompanist Silla knocked me dead with their version of Do Right Woman which has been stuck in my head since. Check em out!
During these two days in Iceland that passed so quickly I didn’t manage to make it out of the capital – I have some unfinished business – mark my words, I will be back…