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“I’m in a weird mood,” Daði remarks at the start of the show, laughing a little. “Gonna be a weird gig.”
It’s difficult to imagine it any other way. Daði Freyr has made a name for himself, both inside and out of the Eurovision community, with his eclectic sense of humour. That playfulness perforates his electronic pop sound throughout his discography — and was ever-present throughout his recent tour date in Dublin.
Freyr is currently on a wide-spanning tour, with a schedule taking him throughout much of Europe and then stretching beyond to the United States. I was fortunate enough to attend his Thursday stop-over in Dublin; but how good was Iceland’s 2020 and 2021 Eurovision frontman in-person?
The setting for the concert was the somewhat awkwardly named 3Olympia Theatre (previously simply the Olympia, or historically the Star of Erin Music Hall). Founded in 1879, the theatre retains many trappings of bygone eras — it still bedazzles with its elaborate decorations, and small private booths remain in place, where aristocrats once sat to watch plays. Over the course of its history, the theatre has seen many big names grace its stage: David Bowie, Adele, Radiohead, and more.
It was a fitting palace for the King of Iceland. Since his introduction to Eurovision fans as the singer of 2020’s Icelandic entry Think About Things (a song which is much-touted as the probable winner of that year, had the pandemic not forced its cancellation), Daði Freyr has enjoyed tremendous success. The music video for Think About Things sits at a whopping 40 million views; the song also currently has an incredible 113,964,434 plays on Spotify. Following its success, Freyr participated again for Iceland in 2021. Despite more incredibly unfortunate meddling by Covid-19 (a member of Freyr’s merry Eurovision band Gagnamagnið tested positive prior to the live shows, meaning that they could not perform live), the joyful 10 Years still achieved a fourth place in Rotterdam.
A concert-goer’s experience
The concert began with an energetic performance from supporting act Mickey Callisto. With the mood set, we all waited with anticipation for the main event. The crowd seemed to include a wide swathe of age groups: while most of the attendees seemed to be young adults, there were also some older concert-goers, and a few very enthusiastic children. In one of the booths, a very young child held tight to a homemade sign — in big colourful letters, it proclaimed: “I love you Daði Freyr!”
The love was very much felt, and shared. An aspect of performance that is not often talked about at Eurovision (due to the constraints of artists doing one singular act) is showmanship and crowd-work, which Freyr was incredibly natural at. Throughout the evening’s entirety, there was not much of a barrier between the artist and his 1000-strong audience: rather, there was a playful back-and-forth between us at all times. Freyr fed off of the audience’s energy with aplomb, and gave the crowd much energy in return.
Despite running on only four hours of sleep, Freyr appeared to be animated by pure enthusiasm — radiating with joy at all the silly things he could make the audience do. At one point, he had us all wigging our hands like crab claws in sync with himself; at another, he ran off to backstage, circled around, and returned to the stage from the other side. Frequently, his bandmates also laughed at his antics, visibly surprised.
It was a treat to see an artist so at home on the stage, so casually at ease with his viewers, and so genuinely happy to perform.
Memorably, during Where I Wanna Be, a spotlight sneakily maneuvered toward the child in the booth — leading to a wonderful moment whereby Freyr pointed at them mid-song and read their sign. The child’s ecstatic reaction to being noticed was met with a massive reaction from the crowd.
It was a reminder of the cornerstone of Freyr’s appeal: his music is geared around a rare earnestness, with a power to be sentimental without ever becoming sodden. He has a rare talent to present music with both a meme-ready ‘quirkiness’ and a genuine outpouring of affection for those around him, without either aspect feeling stale or inauthentic.
This authenticity extended to his sense of humour. Between each song, Freyr casually improvised jokes which went down a treat. At one point, he stopped himself right before starting a song — “there is Guinness happening,” he warned direly. At other points, he underplayed himself with self-deprecating humour (“Sorry if you didn’t like it,” he deadpanned immediately after one song, to cheers).
The setlist featured both of Freyr’s Eurovision hits, as well as the tracks from his 2021 Welcome EP, songs in Icelandic, and a few eccentric covers. While a handful of moments stripped back the atmosphere in favour of a moment of calm, such as the coolly reflective Clear My Head, each track still exhibited unflinching gaiety. Freyr messed around constantly with his electronic instruments; his talented band members jumped at drum sets, shredded an electric guitar, and even launched into a rap verse. Freyr’s vocals were smooth and impressive throughout, diving from great heights to a deep timbre with ease.
The final verdict?
As the show came to a close, the lady sitting beside me beckoned me over. “We were robbed of Reykjavik,” she said. Having seen Daði perform live, I certainly do believe that Think About Things would likely have flooded the Eurovision scoreboard with a deluge of 12-point scores. It most certainly brought the entire theatre to its feet; as did 10 Years, a strong song which was elevated significantly by being performed live.
At the evening’s end, Freyr received a standing ovation from each section of the multi-tiered venue: We like!
Are #YOU a Daði Freyr fan? Which Eurovision entry of his do you prefer? Will you be attending his tour, or have you already? Let us know in the comments below, on our forum, discord, or on our social media, @ESCUnited!