Utidur @ The Rio Theatre – Review

What do you get when ten talented artists from Iceland get together to play dramatic chamber-pop music?

An Icelandic sensation that will make you get up on your feet and dance. Utidur definitely gave Vancouver a little piece of Iceland when they stormed the stage at a sold out show last Saturday night.

Opening for indie rock sensations Brasstronaut, Utidur entertained a fully packed Rio Theatre as they unleashed their unique, powerful sound and quickly grabbed the attention of the audience.

Formed in 2009 by guitarist/vocalist Gunnar Örn and keyboardist Kristinn Roach, the duo called in a troop of gifted musicians and honed their songwriting skills as the band jelled together.

Influenced by Angelo Badalamenti, Beirut, Calexico and Ennio Morricone, Utidur developed a sound that is purely theirs and just plain awesome. They quickly established themselves in their hometown and now are slowly getting their music heard and appreciated overseas through extensive touring.

Playing songs from their album “This Mess We’ve Made”, that was released in the summer of 2010, Utidur was able to showcase their many talents. Their rich vocal harmonies and wonderful blend of instrumentation, which include violin, trumpet, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and accordion fill the stage with a unique sound all and to themselves. Utidur’s sound is definitely big and one-of-a-kind and because it’s interestingly foreign to our ears, it leaves you wanting more.

Singing both in English and Icelandic, the two main vocalists make one feel a sense of familiarity and exoticism. “Fisherman’s Friend”, clearly one of the more popular songs on the album, is charmingly whimsical with the quaint ambience of the accordion.

The song “Up and Down” perfectly describes the rhythm of the song, as the lead male vocals rise, the song speeds up with trumpet solos and then slows down with choir-like vocalizations. “Let’s Make Room” and “Killer on the Run” two great additions to the album are both equally catchy. “Let’s Make Room” is a much happier song while “Killer on the Run” is a bit on the darker side.

Utidur’s live performance had the audience in good spirits with great storytelling and jokes.  With charisma to boot and a mezmorizing sound, it is not hard to fall in love with each and every member of this band. Have a listen and you will be glad to enter the Icelandic world of Utidur.

Gian Karla Limcangco

Gian Karla Limcangco