A mist hung in the air in the Manhattan Center's Grand Ballroom before Sigur Ros took the stage for the first of three New York shows this week. It wasn't your average smoke machine fog — the band is far too refined for that — but rather a delicate haze, as though the main event would emerge from the cloud like they had just been delivered from Brigadoon.
With the help of a string quartet, a five piece marching band and some stout songs from their just-released album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, Sigur Ros delivered a set full of womb-like hums and great oceans of white noise. Frontman Jon Por Birgisson treats his guitar like an intergalactic oddity, regularly shredding it with a violin bow and singing his ethereal falsetto into the pickups.
The crowd, some in fancy dress who took the "ballroom" part of the venue name pretty seriously, hung on every note, sometimes singing along to organ hums or xylophone solos and roaring with approval whenever the band hit a climax. Following a confetti-filled encore, a handful of fans were so moved by the spectacle that they actually wept.