photo: jessica nikolich

A crowning moment of last year’s Lollapalooza Sunday, Icelandic art rock band Sigur Rós continued making up for its four-year hiatus, awing Chicago crowds once again at UIC Pavilion (525 S. Racine Ave., 312-473-5700) Tuesday.

The hype of their live performances is well warranted, and no exception last night with the 11-piece group on stage. Lead Jónsi Birgisson’s haunting voice, most comfortable on quiet earbud nights, exploded with a backdrop of brass and strings, gliding over a sea of gently bobbing heads. At times the sound was overbearing and aggressive even, but always fizzling out to beautiful lapses of stark piano, like in “Fljótavík,” or at one point, Birgisson being left alone in the spotlight, quivering through a single, eternal note.

A healthy dose of old (cheer-induced “Hoppípolla” off the 2005 album Takk) and new (a smattering of tracks from the new album, Kveikur, to be released in the U.S. June 18) filled the two-hour spectacle of Birgisson’s coat tassels flying with the cello bow strokes upon his Gibson Les Paul electric guitar.

The cell phone glows were sparse, and an enraptured audience remained planted through the final hums of the ever-encore “Popplagid.” The North American tour will conclude at the end of May.