You have never heard of Douglas Dare, but if you’re a fan of British imports, then one of these days you will. I saw him open the final stop on Olafur Arnalds’ tour for his newest album, For Now I Am Winter. This was not the first time I have seen Arnalds perform, and it will not be the last.
Before I jump into Arnalds’ set, let me share with you a few thoughts about Douglas Dare.
What makes him such a great foil to an artist like Olafur Arnalds is that although his work on the piano is melodic and beautiful in itself, his vocals carry his music over the top. His voice is broad, sorrowful when it needs to be–and some of his songs are incredibly sad–but there is a jazzy verve that emanates from within and it adds up to something beautiful. He’s one of the best opening acts I’ve seen in a long time, with an EP out now, and an album due in April 2014 (or so he told me). Give him a listen now so that in a few years when he’s the next coming of Adele in the USA you can tell your friends you knew about him before anyone else.
As for Olafur Arnalds–where do I begin? CCA Glasgow has a great venue for musical performances, and we were all standing shoulder to shoulder. Despite the close quarters contact, all discomfort melted away the moment he started playing. He opened with Þú ert sólin (You Are The Sun), from his 2010 album …And They Have Escaped The Weight of Darkness, and from that point on you could hear a pin drop. I think the hush that accompanies his music is a symptom of two factors:
1) The music is so delicate that you have to shut up completely to hear everything.
2) The music is so delicate that it literally leaves you breathless.
Indeed, the crowd was completely silent–I think we were concentrating on the music almost as much as he and his accompanying cellist and violinist were.
Arnalds likes to tell stories about his songs, and one that he seems particularly fond of is Poland. You would that only a broken heart could make a song like this, but the only thing sad about it is that he and his friends drank too much vodka during a tour through Poland a few years back.
I think his utter lack of pretension is ultimately what makes him such a cool person to meet; he remembered talking to me five months ago at his concert in Pomona, California, and asked me if I liked Reykjavik–I did, of course.
To top it all off, Arnor Dan, the vocalist who came onstage to perform pieces from For Now I Am Winter, gave a fellow groupie both of the setlists, and that groupie gave the extra copy to me. You might not get a setlist if you find yourself at an Olafur Arnalds concert, but you will be moved to breathlessness, and that’s all that counts.
First time reading my blog? Click here. And don’t forget to subscribe!