Máni Orrason is a talented young musician from Iceland. His music can easily be defined as an invigorating rock with a touch of soft acoustic and piano sounds. He writes lyrics and music. The vocalist came to Poland by the end of March for a short acoustic tour. He played five gigs, and I was lucky enough to be at one, in Klubokawiarnia Aquarium in Bielsko-Biała. This is as well a reason to write something about it in other language than my native Polish.
The show started few minutes after 7 pm. The time and climate of the venue created the atmosphere of closeness and charm. Klubokawiarnia Aquarium is a perfect place for climatic and small, almost-chamber concerts. I settled back on the chair in the second row and a sound therapy began shortly after. Máni had yet released one very good studio album which sounds better and better every time I play it, and just finished recording his second studio album. He went onstage alone with his acoustic guitar plugged into a small amplifier. It wasn’t an ordinary gig though. Although Orrason’s music might be easily categorized, it’s simplicity is it’s virtue. This apparent calm of music mixed with the energy that cumulates in Máni. The energy that he then unleashes with his voice. And his voice is amazing, he is a great live performer. The characteristic feature of the gig was it’s spontaneity because Orrason did not have a setlist. He explained that he stopped making setlists because he found himself staring at the sheet of paper onstage too often. He has a curious expression which I loved right when I saw it. He doesn’t stand still when performing and he doesn’t swing his guitar like a fool… his legs alone are carrying him to the rhythm of his instrument and because of the moves, I’m not sure if it’s entirely controlled or not, every song he sang became somewhat a march, a journey to the unknown. So he travelled with the audience and told them stories from both his debut, Repeating Patterns, and this yet-unreleased second album. He also played a couple of covers, including Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire which was released on a great acoustic EP Wake Me Up.
Although he brought onstage only his guitar, the artists made use of a beautiful grand piano that is always settled on Aquarium’s stage and played some songs. He said that despite on the tour he only had an acoustic guitar, it somehow happened that in almost all places he been too there was a piano or something like that so he could play on it, and this grand piano he played in Bielsko-Biała was the best, the most beautiful instrument he saw recently. Oh, and how prettily he screamed. I must admit I am partial to that form expression whether it is our Polish rock band Hey or wherever it can be heard. But poor Máni might have tear off his voice because he regularly switched to scream-like singing. Besides, he asked people if he sings too loud and told them that he doesn’t hear it. All in all, it wasn’t a problem at all. The musician didn’t loose his voice and we didn’t go deaf. It’s just one of the inconveniences that artists so often have while doing what they love and people does not realize that. That’s it, no big deal.
Máni played one more cover on the grand piano, Something by The Beatles. He introduced it as a song written by the most talented of the four Beatles, George Harrison. It is, in his oppinion, on of the greatest songs, encapsulating love in 3 minutes. He was very surprised at the songs played in Polish radio stations. He asked if Polish people really love 80’s music. Every radio station he tuned in in the last couple of days was mostly playing 80’s music. This is true. I even smiled when he said that because I happen to think of it everytime I hear the radio playing. This is the problem of Polish commercial radio stations. I don’t know exactly why it is so, but I’m guessing the radio presenters must play all of their favourite tunes, they might have a liking for the 80’s because they were young then.. but I’m not quite sure about it.
After the gig I couldn’t pass the opportunity to speak with Máni. I even bought his merch t-shirt. I love the design. Unfortunately I left it in my friends’s flat so I won’t wear it for about a week. And Máni is a very cool guy. It was nice talking with him, and I feel that we would have a very long conversations about music and life sometime. There are certain people you feel you would talk about anything all day and you would be comfortable with that. And Máni Orrason is exactly that type of person. Or at least seems to be. To conclude, I was delighted when I left the venue and I hope that Máni will come to Poland to promote his second studio album. I keep my fingers crossed for him!