“When is an elf bigger than a nation?” asked the opening paragraph of an article in The New York Times. The article detailed Björk‘s success and attempted to analyse the effect it has had on the country.

Jon Hakon Magnusson, founder of public relations firm Kom, is quoted as saying, “Björk is Iceland’s most valuable brand, bigger than Icelandair or the Blue Lagoon, and as identifiable to the world as Volvo is with Sweden and Nokia is with Finland.”

Tourists wishing to fly to the island in order to hang around outside her house and get a glimpse of her are likely to be disappointed – she’s lived in New York for the last eight years, although she does return each year to spend Christmas with her mum.

A search for other acts with international potential is probably best started at the Iceland Airwaves Festival, which took place in the theatres, clubs and bars of Reykjavik a couple of weeks ago.

It was the perfect occasion for Sigur Rós to return to the country and play a packed 1,000-capacity Reykjavik Art Gallery. Other artists, including Emiliana and Apparat Organ Quartet also performed, suggesting the bleak volcanic island with its 278,000 population may have further musical talent to offer the world.

As for Björk, it appear she it going home for Christmas a little earlier this year. She’s expected to headline two shows in Iceland on December 17 and 18.


Following two shootings – the second of which may have actually happened inside the building – So Solid Crew’s set was stopped at London’s Astoria and the act was escorted from the stage by security.

Although the victim was lying injured in the venue’s doorway, the police appear to be unsure about where the incident actually took place. Earlier in the day, a man was shot dead in the same area of the city.

The south-London garage rappers and DJs have since released a press statement which began, “So Solid Crew very much regret the violence that broke out at their birthday show at The Astoria (last night), but want to make it clear that they abhor violence and have made it clear on their record that they want the violence to stop.”

At the end of August, band member Ashley Walters (aka Asher D) was remanded on conditional bail until November 5 at London’s Old Bailey on charges of possessing a gun and threatening to kill.

On October 16, So Solid Crew’s Darren James Weir was granted conditional bail after appearing at Cardiff Crown Court, where he’d pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on a 16-year-old girl.

On his return to the Cardiff court, he was fined £1,500 for the offence, ordered to pay £3,500 to the victim in compensation and £500 in prosecution costs. The court heard that when the girl rejected Weir’s sexual advances, he struck her. As a result, her jaw was broken in two places and surgeons had to insert three metal plates to correct the damage.

In March ’99, Weir – who goes under the name of Skat D – was convicted of actual bodily harm after he’d assaulted a bus conductor.

The act starts its U.K. tour at Norwich’s University Of East Anglia on December 5 and plays Cardiff the following day.


Mogwai, The White Stripes, Hefner, Beachwood Sparks, The Von Bondies, Royksopp, and Ya Te Digo are booked for the second edition of the Pop Attack Festival at Barcelona’s 2,300-capacity Razzmatazz on December 1.

The event was launched last year as a platform for the bright new hopefuls that are breaking through and, certainly in the case of The White Stripes, he seems to have hit the nail on the head.

The act, which released its “Hotel Yorba” single in the U.K. on November 12, was signed to XL Recordings for a reported US$1 million and, along with The Strokes, has inspired more column inches of print than any other act this year. Pop Attack uses a three-stage configuration within the different rooms and a ticket that gains access to them all, plus a club-style area featuring sets from the country’s top indie-style DJs.


A row has broken out between Geri Halliwell and the Austereo radio network after the British singer abruptly canceled her set on the broadcaster’s star-studded late November Rumba Festival. Austereo claims Halliwell threw a tantrum after a pre-tour interview on one of its syndicated shows, “Hot.30.com,” where she was played a prerecorded tape of fellow ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham and asked to comment on their alleged feud.

Halliwell’s people said she had to stay in the U.K. to promote a new record. Rival promoters suggest Halliwell must not have been locked into the festival if she could have walked out for such reasons.

Short Items: While the Rolling Stones might venture out for global dates to celebrate their 40th anniversary, Mick Jagger might do some unplugged showcases of his new solo album through Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Jagger is also tipped to holiday in Sydney through the Christmas break to coincide with the cricket season….. Baz Luhrman, after success at the box office and the Top 40 charts with “Moulin Rouge,” is to turn it into a stage musical through his Bazmark Live company….. They Might Be Giants are on the way for December club shows in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

After Robbie Williams‘ first sell-out show in Perth hundreds of fans milled in the car park.

Williams’ getaway van was stopped by two cops for exceeding the car park speeding limit by 8 km. As the fans swarmed around the car, the cops realised they could end up with a riot and waved the van on.

Just 100m down the road, it was stopped again for doing an illegal U-turn. It had to leave the park through the wrong exit.


The Cult was the last international act to perform at the El Mocambo the week before the historic Toronto venue closed.

The band became available after its opening slot for Aerosmith at the Air Canada Centre was postponed due to Steven Tyler’s illness.

Aerosmith ticket holders got in for $15 (Cdn.), a $10 discount, and some 600 people packed the upstairs room.

“It’s been a very special evening,” said frontman Ian Astbury toward the end of the hour-plus set.

“What’s it been? Fifty years at the El Mo? Child, boy, man. David Johansen has played on this stage. What about Forgotten Rebels?” he said, referring to the Hamilton, Ontario, punk icons known for the song “Surfin’ on Heroin.”

Astbury once resided in Hamilton, an hour west of Toronto.

Shows continued all week, culminating in a farewell concert by Mainline on the 4th.